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Texas nurse appears in court, is accused of murdering new mother

April 19, 2012|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske

HOUSTON -- Houston nurse Verna McClain appeared in court Thursday after her arrest in this week's shooting death of a new mother outside a suburban pediatrician's office. The woman's 3-day-old infant son was taken in the attack.

McClain, 30, wearing a pink-and white-striped jumpsuit, was asked by the judge if she understood the capital murder charge against her. She replied: "Yes, sir."

She has not been charged with kidnapping because that's part of the capital murder charge under Texas law, Montgomery County Sheriff's Lt. Dan Norris told The Times.

Norris said investigators were still working the case Thursday and may still charge others in connection with it.

“However, there’s probably nothing that will happen anytime soon,” Norris said.

McClain is accused of fatally shooting 28-year-old Kala Golden to death Tuesday in the parking lot of Northwoods Pediatric Center in Spring, Texas, about 25 miles north of Houston, before placing 3-day-old Keegan Schuchardt in her car and fleeing.

Investigators caught up with McClain that night, and she confessed to the shooting and abduction, according to her arrest report. She led authorities to the boy, who was unharmed, at McClain's sister's Houston apartment. The baby was later reunited with his family.

McClain is a Berkeley, Calif., native; a vocational nurse licensed in Texas and California; and the mother of at least two other children, whom she had treated at the doctor's office where the attack occurred.

Officials have said McClain might have kidnapped the baby because she had suffered a miscarriage but hadn't told her fiance, whom she had planned to marry in May. They say she might have been searching for another baby to pass off as her own.

McClain's sister said McClain claimed to have recently adopted a baby, according to investigators. It's not clear how McClain, who is black, intended to explain to her fiance, who is also black, why the baby Keegan was white. Norris declined to speculate.

Judge Fred Edwards has appointed McClain two public defenders, according to Phil Grant, Montgomery County first assistant district attorney.

Montgomery County Dist. Atty. Brett Ligon asked the judge to deny McClain bail, saying he was ready to present evidence to support his request. The judge decided not to change McClain's bond but agreed to delay the case until Monday so that McClain's attorneys have time to prepare.

Ligon has said McClain planned the kidnapping, although officials said Golden was a random victim she did not know.

"We'll be putting on more evidence Monday that might be able to clear that up," Grant told The Times.

McClain's estranged husband expressed surprise at the incident and subsequent charges. "She's not a violent person, so for her to shoot someone, it was shocking," Theo McClain, 34, of San Diego told the Associated Press. "This is all crazy to me."

According to California Board of Vocational Nursing & Psychiatric Technicians records, McClain was licensed in San Diego in 2008. Her license expires in June.

Theo McClain said Verna McClain had not told him she was planning to adopt. He described her as someone who loved people, children and the elderly. Her nurse licensing records show no signs of discipline.

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molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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