COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A jury on Wednesday acquitted an Ohio doctor of murder charges in multiple hospital patient deaths following a weekslong trial.
Dr. William Husel was accused of ordering excessive painkillers for 14 patients in the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System. He was indicted in cases involving at least 500 micrograms of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.
Prosecutors said ordering such dosages for a nonsurgical situation indicated an intent to end lives. Husel had pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of murder, with his attorneys saying he was providing comfort care for dying patients, not trying to kill them.
Prosecutors presented their case against the doctor beginning Feb. 22 and put on 53 prosecution witnesses before resting on March 29. Those witnesses included medical experts, Mount Carmel employees, investigators, and family members of all 14 patients.
By contrast, defense lawyers called just a single witness — a Georgia anesthesiologist — to testify that Husel’s patients died from their medical conditions and not Husel’s actions. The defense rested on March 31 after one day.
During closing arguments April 11, David Zeyen, an assistant Franklin County prosecutor, told jurors that regardless of how close a patient is to death, it’s illegal to speed up the process.
Husel attorney Jose Baez said prosecutors hadn’t produced “a shred of evidence” to back up their claims.
Mount Carmel has reached settlements totaling more than $16.7 million over the deaths of at least 17 patients, with more lawsuits pending.