During a six-week period in the summer of 1975, 27 patients experienced respiratory failure and 11 patients died at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Ann Arbor. In June 1976, after an intense FBI investigation, two Filipina nurses — Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez — were charged with injecting the patients with the muscle relaxant Pavulon.

Filipina Narciso and Leonora Perez

Leonora Perez (left) and Filipina Narciso (right)

The jury found the nurses guilty of conspiracy to poison three patients and dropped the murder charge against Narciso. Interestingly, the Assistant U.S. Attorney General Richard Delonis called the evidence “highly circumstantial.” The case received international attention because it confronted political and racial tensions. In 1977, the federal judge ordered a new trial, citing prosecutorial misconduct that gave prosecutors a chance to retry the case. However, prosecutors decided not to do so. The decision left the guilty verdict standing, but without penalty. Authorities then released the nurses, who have not been exonerated.

Through interviews, archival video and photos, and FBI documents obtained via FOIA, this regional Emmy®-award winning, half-hour film re-constructs the nurses’ trial, conviction and release.


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