“It was definitely sensational. There’s no question about that. Every time I’d drive up to the courthouse, I’d be stormed with reporters from everywhere in the United States. The New York Times had a correspondent there," Sutton said.
With Genene Jones speaking out in the press before her trial even started, her attorney at the time, Bill Chenault, said he became frustrated with her behavior.
"She likes to stir the pot. Certain people like to stir the pot," he said.
He had met Jones through her family and said he tried to give her some advice about the case early on.
Jones has two kids, a boy and a girl. Chenault had helped her with a child support case, but he said he never predicted Jones would need legal counsel for a murder charge soon after.
“Her brother and I were both officers in the San Antonio Jaycees. He came to me and said his sister needed some help getting some unpaid child support and asked if I would help her. He was a nice guy and that sort of thing, so I said fine, I'd help. It turned out to be Genene Jones. We had a hearing on that, and I didn't hear from her much for a while. I knew she was a nurse.
I got this call a year or so later saying she's in Kerrville and she had this problem. I talked to her a little bit, and then I started helping. Among other things, I tried to give her some ideas like 'don't talk to anybody, don't discuss the case... keep a low profile.' I say that because the problem was she wasn't low profile at all. She spent a lot of time talking. She called her own press conferences. If you're a criminal defendant, you keep your mouth shut and try to stay far away.
At any rate, she loved publicity. She'd go to a press conference and she'd be talking to the press. She wanted to tell her story. She wanted to talk to the grand jury, which is something you don't do," Chenault said.
Chenault said Jones' quest for attention, combined with family commitments and the cost of staying in Williamson County during the trial, led him to withdraw from the case after a few months.
Chelsea's mother, Petti McClellan, also was thrown into the spotlight Jones had created.
“When you take a normal person that has a normal life, I'd never done anything with the media. I never knew I would deal with media. I don't know what I was expecting. I definitely wasn't expecting the media attention," Petti said.
KENS-TV file video even shows a photographer in the media gaggle bumping into Petti outside the courthouse as she and her husband, Reid, tried to shuffle out of the way.
“There were people everywhere, all in my yard and my street. When I would go to the grocery store, it was just very, very overwhelming, you know? I was petrified," Petti said.
As we reported in Vile Episode 3, Sutton’s prosecution team had a rare and expensive test performed. That screening found traces of succinylcholine in Chelsea's body.
After her body was exhumed, samples had been sent all the way to Sweden for testing. That process already had made headlines.
“This was the first time in the United States that there had ever been a trial where succinylcholine was proven to exist in its original compound form in the human body. It’s the first time ever. I was told by many in the medical profession and the toxicology profession that you couldn’t find it. It’s totally gone, divided and gone," Sutton said.
A KENS-TV archive report states that, according to court testimony by forensic toxicologist Dr. Frederich Rieders, the highest concentration of succinylcholine was found in Chelsea's right thigh.
"I was particularly interested in succinylcholine myself and how it works because when I was in college, I had really bad tonsils. During summer recess, my parents took me to a hospital in San Angelo to have my tonsils removed. In operations, succinylcholine was used quite frequently to put the body totally at ease and relaxed and to place intubation tubes down your throat so you could breathe.
They did that to me, but the succinylcholine took effect before the anesthesia took its effect and put me to sleep. In other words, they were backwards. All of a sudden, I couldn’t breathe. I was scared to death that something was wrong. It didn’t last but a couple of seconds, but I was absolutely horrified. I couldn’t say anything and couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t move my arms, but my brain was still working. My eyes were still working. I was absolutely horrified. Can you imagine a small child having this experience? I mean, it’s the most horrific thing. In other words, you’re dead and alive at the same time," Sutton said.