William Husel Scott is an American physician who was accused of murdering 14 people from February 11, 2015, to November 20, 2018, by fentanyl overdosage at the Mount Carmel West and St. Ann’s Hospitals in Columbus, Ohio. Having turned himself in on June 5, 2019, Husel was found not guilty of all counts on April 20, 2022.
Here is the full timeline of the case.
2013: William Husel begins working for Mount Carmel Health System. Administrators have said he was an intensive-care doctor who worked primarily at Mount Carmel West hospital in Franklinton.
February 2015: According to the State Medical Board of Ohio, this is when Husel first provided substandard care and jeopardized the safety of critically ill patients.
Feb 10, 2015: A patient dies at Mount Carmel West after being administered 400 micrograms of fentanyl
Feb. 11, 2015: Emma Bogan dies at Mount Carmel West.
March 1, 2015: Jan Thomas dies.
May 4, 2015: Norma Welch dies.
May 10, 2015: Joanne Bellisari dies.
April 3, 2017: Ryan Hayes dies.
Oct. 9, 2017: Three patients die at Mount Carmel West: Timothy Fitzpatrick, Beverly Schirtzinger and Peggy Francies. Husel was not charged in Francies’ death.
Oct. 11, 2017: Michael Walters dies.
Oct. 13, 2017: Robert P. Lee dies at St. Ann’s.
Nov. 20, 2017: Thomas Mathews
Dec. 5, 2017: Danny Mollette dies
Dec. 10, 2017: Larry Brigner dies
Dec. 11, 2017: Janet Kavanaugh dies
Jan. 14, 2018: Two patients die – Brandy McDonald and Francis Burke.
March 25, 2018: Charles Longstreth dies.
April 1, 2018: Jeremia “Sue” Hodge dies
May 28, 2018: James Allen dies
July 15, 2018: Troy Allison dies
Sept. 25, 2018: Corrinnia Blake dies
Sept. 30, 2018: Bonnie Austin dies
Oct. 24, 2018: James “Nick” Timmons dies
Oct. 25, 2018: Mount Carmel receives formal report regarding Husel’s care.
Nov. 13, 2018: Sandra Castle dies
Nov. 19, 2018: Rebecca Walls dies. Mount Carmel receives second formal report regarding Husel, broadens investigation.
Nov. 20, 2018: Melissa Penix dies.
Nov. 21, 2018: Mount Carmel receives third report regarding Husel, removes the doctor from patient-care duties.
Dec. 5, 2018: Mount Carmel fires Husel, notifies State Medical Board of Ohio, meets with Franklin County prosecutor; as of this date, 24 patients are believed to have received excessive painkiller doses ordered by Husel.
Dec. 7, 2018: Mount Carmel notifies State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy and State of Ohio Board of Nursing.
Dec. 11, 2018: Mount Carmel staff begin training on new procedures and existing and updated policies.
Dec. 27, 2018: Mount Carmel contacts families of affected patients to share information and apologize.
Dec. 28, 2018: Mount Carmel expands investigation, identifies three additional affected patients bringing total to 27.
Jan. 14: Mount Carmel contacts families to relay more information and make them aware that the information would be made public.
Lawsuit is filed by Kavanaugh’s daughter alleging wrongful death, negligence and other counts against Mount Carmel, Husel, a pharmacist and a nurse. At least 28 lawsuits will eventually be filed.
January 2019- Husel was accused of ordering excessive doses of fentanyl to patients in his care. The health system initially identified 35 patients.
June 2019- Millions were paid out after families began filing civil lawsuits.
June 2019- After charges were announced, Husel turned himself in. He pleaded not guilty to 25 murders from 2015-18.
July 2019- Mount Carmel fired 23 employees and its CEO resigned after the investigation into patients’ deaths.
August 2019 – Florida criminal defense attorney Jose Baez files a motion to represent Husel.
November 2020 – After the 2020 election, a new prosecution team was put into place.
October 2020- Husel’s defense team filed a motion to have murder charges against him thrown out.
December 2021 – A judge denies the motion to throw out murder charges.
January 2022 – Three years into the case, the prosecution moved to drop 11 murder charges against Husel. The 14 remaining counts were some of the highest doses of fentanyl given to patients.
January 2022 – Judge Michael Holbrook granted a motion to dismiss 11 charges against Husel.
February 2022- A jury of seven women and five men was seated for Husel’s murder trial.
February 2022 – Opening statements began in Husel’s murder trial before both sides questioned the first witness.
February 2022- A prosecution expert witness testified in the Husel murder trial, describing dosages as “mind-boggling” and “unethical.”
March 2022- The third week of testimony comes to a close
March 2022 -Week five of the Husel murder trial begins with the testimony of family members of Husel’s patients and a prosecution expert.
March 2022 – During the sixth week of testimony, the prosecution rested its case in the Husel murder trial after calling 53 witnesses.
March 2022- The defense team called its first, and only, witness to the stand. The defense called Dr. Joel Zivot. He said he works at Emory University in Atlanta and is an anesthesiology and intensive care specialist.
March 2022 – After calling just one witness to testify, the defense team rested its case.
April 2022- After a week of delays, both sides give their closing arguments. After jurors were dismissed, the defense made a motion for a mistrial with prejudice.
Fast Summary of William Husel trial
Husel’s trial began February 22, 2022. In her opening statement, Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor Janet Grubb told the jury that Husel prescribed “unwarranted and unprecedented” dosages of fentanyl, more than was medically necessary to ease pain, and that his actions caused the patients’ deaths.
Husel’s defense attorney Jose Baez said in his opening statement that Husel prescribed the fentanyl in an effort to relieve his patients from pain and that he did not commit murder. Baez also showed the jury part of a media playbook Mount Carmel Health System had created for handling the scandal, including a page discussing who the “villain” would be. After opening statements, prosecutors called their first witness, Columbus police detective Bill Gillette.
The State’s second witness, pharmacist Talon Schroyer–who had previously worked the night shift at Mount Carmel–testified on February 23 that he thought Dr. Husel’s fentanyl orders were “unusual” but was unsure if they might be a result of possible drug diversion. During cross-examination of Schroyer, defense attorney Diane Menashe argued that Husel had saved the lives of some of the alleged murder victims by providing lifesaving interventions (such as CPR and medications like vasopressors).
On February 28, jurors heard from Dr. E. Wesley Ely, a physician and Vanderbilt University professor. Dr. Ely, who specializes in pulmonary and critical care medicine, testified about each of the 14 patients Husel is accused of murdering. According to Dr. Ely, each of those patients could have died as a direct result of the medication Husel ordered for them and not (directly) from their underlying health conditions. Dr. Ely further stated that Dr. Husel’s dosing was “astounding,” “mind-boggling” and “out of the norm.”
On March 1, John “Sean” O’Connell, the former director of pharmacy of Mount Carmel West testified, followed by Mount Carmel pulmonary and critical care physician Dr. Gina Moody and Dr. Deborah Woidtke, a hospitalist specializing in internal medicine who was contracted by Mount Carmel through Columbus Inpatient Care. On March 2, jurors heard from former Mount Carmel West Vice President Dr. Larry Swanner and Dr. Dan Roth, chief clinical officer of Trinity Health. Dr. Ely returned on March 10.
On March 3, Judge Michael Holbrook denied the defense’s motion for a mistrial. That same day, Judge Holbrook dismissed the jury until Monday, March 7. Prosecutors and defense attorneys argued about whether certain testimony relied on privileged information.
On March 4, Judge Holbrook ruled that Dr. Larry Swanner would be recalled to clarify some of his testimony–specifically what report he relied on to conclude that Husel was the only doctor in the health system ordering fentanyl doses of 500 micrograms and above. On March 7 and 8, there was testimony from additional Mount Carmel employees and from Columbus Inpatient Care employees. Additionally, the Chief Forensics Toxicologist at the Franklin County Coroners Office testified.
From March 9 through March 17, and on March 24 and March 28, jurors heard from several current and former Mount Carmel employees–including those who have worked as nurses, doctors, and hospitalists. On March 15, March 17, March 21, March 24, March 28, and March 29, jurors heard testimony from family members of Dr. Husel’s alleged victims. On March 21 through March 23, Dr. John Walther Schweiger, a Tampa anesthesiologist and critical care physician, testified as an expert witness for the prosecution. On March 29, prosecutors rested their case in chief after calling 53 witnesses.
On March 30, the defense called anesthesiology and intensive care specialist Dr. Joel Zivot as a witness. Dr. Zivot testified that the drugs administered by Husel were intended indeed ordered for comfort care at end of life. Prosecutors objected to Dr. Zivot’s testimony because he acknowledged that he had spoken to Dr. Husel as part of his review of the medical records, which is barred by Ohio evidence rules.
Dr. Zivot testified that he believed all 14 patients Husel is accused of murdering had died from illnesses and underlying medical conditions rather than the fentanyl Husel had ordered for them. The defense then rested, having called no further witnesses. Prosecutors will not call any rebuttal witnesses. Closing arguments were scheduled for Monday, April 4 and were then scheduled for Wednesday, April 6 and then for Thursday, April 7. Closing arguments occurred on Monday, April 11.
On April 7, an affidavit of disqualification was filed with the Ohio Supreme Court, along with a motion to seal it. The affidavit seeks to have Judge Michael Holbrook removed from the case. The request was denied.
During closing arguments, Assistant Franklin County Prosecutor David Zeyen said that Husel intended to hasten or cause the deaths of 14 patients and that it did not matter if they were already ill or close to death.
He further argued that William Husel late-night shift gave him a cover to order excessive amounts of fentanyl. Nurses under Dr. Husel, Zeyen said, were “enthralled” to be working with someone like him, who completed a residency at the prestigious Cleveland Clinic. During the defense’s closing argument.
Baez claimed that prosecutors had selectively presented certain details that were helpful to their case and withheld details that were favorable to Dr. Husel. Baez also argued that the patients Husel is accused of murdering died from being taken off ventilators, rather than from fentanyl he had prescribed.
Jury deliberations began on April 12. On April 18, jurors said they were at an impasse. Judge Michael Holbrook ordered them to continue working to reach a verdict.
On April 20, 2022, the jury found Husel not guilty on all charges.
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