French caretaker accused in 6 retiree poisonings

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PARIS (AP) - A caretaker at a French retirement home was charged in the poisoning deaths of six patients, accused Thursday of slipping the elderly residents a psychotropic cocktail over the course of two months.

Three other victims were sickened but survived, said Dietlind Baudoin, assistant prosecutor of Chambery in France's mountainous east, where the 30-year-old suspect had worked in the home since 2012, through the death of her own mother after a long illness this year.

"She wanted to relieve their suffering, without specifying exactly what she meant by relieve," said Baudoin, who described the victims as healthy considering their ages and afflictions. "She seemed quite affected by what she had done."

Baudoin didn't identify the drugs used in the cocktail.

According to its website, the facility specializes in care for the elderly with limited mobility and multiple illnesses. The victims were in their 80s, but "they were not at all near the end of their lives," Baudoin said.

Baudoin, who did not name the suspect in keeping with French privacy law, said the victims were largely in their 80s, and died in October and November. The 30-year-old faces preliminary charges of poisoning and attempted poisoning, and faces the possibility of life in prison, Baudoin said.

The prosecutor said the suspect's mother had died this year after a long illness and described the young woman as isolated and fragile.

"She is someone who is calm and composed. That is her spirit," Baudoin said. "She's a young woman who was socially isolated, who took care of her own mother for a long time, until she died in 2013, but apart from this fragility had a normal life."

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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