Sally Jordan Hill says what happened was an accident. But, as The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith reports, prosecutors are hinting that she was out for revenge for something that happened long ago.
"I am so happy," Hill said on her release. "I just give God all the glory."
At the center of her case is a facelift turned fatal. Five years ago, Hill, a nurse, either made a mistake or murdered a patient.
The patient was Sandra Baker Joyner — someone Tim McLeod has known since the early 70s, when they were teenagers together at Olympic High School. He still has the yearbook Sandra signed for him.
"Here is a piece of somebody who is no longer with us," McLeod said. "She was a very pretty woman."
At age 45, Sandra went to the office of Dr. Peter Tucker to enhance those good looks with a facelift. But she never made it out of the recovery room.
Authorities say, Hill, a nurse, gave her so much of a pain medication called fentanyl that it killed her. The autopsy described it as a medical mistake.
But five years later, Hill was arrested and charged with murder.
Melissa Manware, who is covering the case for the Charlotte Observer, said no one knows what changed in that time.
"We know that the DA's office got some kind of information back toward the end of last year," she told Smith. "The prosecutors went to the cold case squad and asked them to investigate this death, and that's how it got started."
So what's the motive? According to authorities, it may go all the way back to those high school years that McLeod remembers.
It turns out that Hill went to Olympic High School, too. She reportedly told witnesses that Joyner stole her boyfriend — 30 years ago.
It's a contention that seems plausible to McLeod. "It was high school," he said. "Of course it seems plausible."
Hill's supporters call that theory ridiculous.
"She's a very, very giving person," said her pastor, Rev. Ron Jackson.
But back in 2003, when the North Carolina medical board investigated the case, Tucker described Hill differently, calling her "a rogue nurse on her own wild mustang riding through the west, shooting whoever she wants."
In her own deposition, Hill defended her actions, saying, "I feel like I would have done everything exactly the same way."
Hill reportedly told investigators that "only Sandra Joyner, me and Jesus were there and knew what happened."
Hill had an interesting response when asked this week about Joyner's death: She laughed.
It's a question she'll likely face again in court when prosecutors try to prove that a high school grudge can last three decades.