updated 10/5/2006 1:33:15 PM ET 2006-10-05T17:33:15

A former nurse was sentenced Thursday to life in prison for injecting 10 Texas hospital patients with lethal drug doses.

Vickie Dawn Jackson, 40, pleaded no contest to capital murder on Tuesday and was sentenced after a brief hearing before a judge.

Nearly two dozen deaths were reported at Nocona General Hospital in late 2000 and early 2001, a stretch of time when the hospital should only have seen five to 10 deaths under normal conditions.

“In general, they were the kind of patients who needed more care," FBI Special Agent David Burns testified during the sentencing hearing. "I think that's probably why. They're verbose. They want this. They're thirsty. It seemed to make her angry."

Jackson's attorney, Bruce Martin, said Jackson maintained she was innocent and pleaded no contest to avoid a trial so her daughter would not be called to testify against her. Martin also said Jackson felt it was important not to be convicted by a jury.

Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty, and Jackson would have been sentenced to life in prison if convicted by a jury.

The case was moved from Nocona, 90 miles northwest of Dallas, to this West Texas town because of publicity surrounding the deaths.

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