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Ex-California hospital worker sentenced to life

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A former respiratory therapist who once called himself the "Angel of Death," was sentenced Wednesday to six consecutive life sentences without parole for killing six terminally ill patients through lethal injections.

Efren Saldivar, 32, who worked at Glendale Adventist Medical Center in the 1990s, initially confessed to killing at least 40 patients -- a confession he later recanted. Wednesday's sentence was for his role in the deaths of six patients.


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Saldivar initially pleaded not guilty to six counts of murder with special circumstances in the deaths of the six elderly hospital patients. On March 12, he changed his plea to guilty to avoid a possible death sentence.

He murdered the patients in 1996 and 1997 while working at the Glendale hospital. Saldivar used overdoses of two muscle relaxants -- one of them called Pavulon and the other succinylcholine chloride, commonly known as SUCC -- to shut down the respiratory systems of patients, essentially suffocating them.

The families of several of the six victims also have filed a wrongful death suit against Saldivar and the hospital, alleging medical malpractice, assault and battery, reckless elder abuse and negligence.




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