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Nurse pleads guilty to four murders

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A nurse who wept when four patients under her care at a St. Petersburg nursing home died in 1984 has pleaded guilty to strangling two of them and injecting the others with fatal overdoses of insulin.

A judge sentenced Bobbie Sue Dudley Terrell, 35, of Tampa to 65 years in prison Tuesday after she pleaded guilty to second-degree murder charges.

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After the patients' deaths, 'She was hysterical. She broke down in tears and said she couldn't believe the patients died,' other nursing home employees told a police detective, according to court records.

But the former registered nurse showed no emotion when she pleaded guilty before Circuit Judge James R. Case to killing the four North Horizon Health Center patients with insulin injections or by strangulation.

Terrell originally was charged with first-degree murder, which is punishable by the death penalty or life imprisonment.

Assistant State Attorney Bruce Bartlett said the charges were reduced to second degree after consideration of Terrell's past mental problems and because many of the witnesses were elderly, incapacitated patients.

Terrell never has said why she strangled Aggie Marsh, 97, and Stella Bradham, 85, and injected Leathy McKnight, 85, and Mary Rae Carter, 79, with deadly amounts of insulin. Marsh died Nov. 14, 1984. McKnight died two days later and Carter and Bradham four days after Marsh.

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A fifth patient, Anna Larson, 94, was injected with insulin, but was rushed to a hospital and was saved. She died in January 1985 of an unrelated cause.

Terrell, who started work at North Horizon on Oct. 2, 1984, also pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted murder in the Larson case. On that charge, Case sentenced Terrell to 30 years to be served concurrently with the 65-year sentence.

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