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Doctor Acquitted of Giving Patients Fentanyl and Other Drugs to Kill Them


Jurors in Columbus, Ohio, have acquitted a former doctor of murdering 14 patients with fatal doses of fentanyl.

Both sides agreed that William Husel, 46, was respected by colleagues, but prosecutors argue that he set out to kill James Allen, 80, Troy Allison, 44, Bonnie Austin, 64, Joanne S. Bellisari, 69, Francis Burke, 73, Sandra Castle, 80, Ryan Hayes, 39, Jeremia “Sue” Hodge, 57, Brandy McDonald, 37, Danny Mollette, 74, Melissa Penix, 82, Beverlee Ann Schirtzinger, 63, James “Nick” Timmons, 39, and Rebecca Walls, 75.

Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Janet Grubb said in opening statements that Husel gave a number of powerful, potent opiates together in “massive doses” to patients at the intensive care unit at the Mount Carmel West hospital. Pharmacy staff at the hospital brought concerns to administrators and others about the drugs Husel was administering.

Grubb described patients as being on ventilators.

“Being on a ventilator was not and is not a death sentence,” she said. “People do come off of them and live. Unfortunately, that was not the case for the victims in this prosecution.”

Husel’s attorney Jose Baez said in closing arguments that no one testified about how long the patients had to live. He questioned how can prosecutors show that Husel wanted to hasten their deaths if no one could show how long they had to live.

No evidence showed that the patients experienced side effects, he said. He called the prosecution’s case “absurd.”

Baez has said that Husel was only alleviating pain as patients were dying. He denied that the doctor gave anyone an overdose.

[Booking photo via Franklin County Jail]

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