The first witness on Tuesday called by the prosecution was Dr. Kanan Patel, a hospitalist formerly at Mt. Carmel West. Patel was questioned about the discharge summary and care of James Allen, one of Husel’s alleged victims.
After 20 minutes of questioning to Dr. Patel, the prosecution called Dr. Lusine Abrahamyan, another hospitalist formerly at Mt. Carmel West. Dr. Abrahamyan was asked about discharge summaries she wrote for Beverlee Schirtzinger and Joanne Bellisari, two of Husel’s alleged victims.
The third witness was Geraldine Brown, who is the partner of eight years with Brandy McDonald’s mother. McDonald is one of Husel’s alleged victims. Brown described her relationship with Brandy McDonald “like she was my own.”
Fourteen minutes after receiving what family members said was “a lethal dose of fentanyl” ordered by Dr. Husel on Jan. 14, 2018, McDonald, 37, died, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by McDonald’s family.
Brown, who was asked about McDonald’s hospital care, testified that no one from McDonald’s family gave a request that Brandy McDonald receive pain medication.
The fourth witness on Tuesday was Mariah Havens, who was the stepdaughter of Troy Allison for 18 years before he died on July 15, 2018. Allison is one of Husel’s alleged victims.
Havens is a medical assistant at OhioHealth and was in nursing school at the time of Allison’s death.
After prosecuting and defense attorneys questioned Havens, Earl Huron II, a registered nurse who previously worked in the ICU and post-anesthesia care unit (PACU) at Mount Carmel, testified over Zoom.
Huron, who joined Mount Carmel in 2018, testified that the ICU was a “pretty close-knit unit” and he “was confident in the doctors at the time and their decisions.” He said nurses at Mount Carmel held Husel in high regard.
Although Huron said he verified Husel’s orders for 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl that were administered to Timmons, he said the most he gave in a single dose when he worked in the PACU was 100 micrograms.
Havens, who returned to the witness stand for a second time, alleged that her mother never gave Mount Carmel permission to remove Troy Allison, her stepfather, from the ventilator.
Menashe grilled her about why she never called law enforcement or the compliance hotline at Mount Carmel West to report Allison’s death, which Havens said came without her mother’s approval.
“You didn’t immediately call 911? Someone just killed my loved one when my mother never said to do that?” Menashe asked.
When the prosecutor began questioning Havens, she testified that she wish she had called the police — but didn’t because she couldn’t understand what was going on at the time of Allison’s death.
Next on the witness stand was Lynn Marshall, the brother of James Timmons, one of the alleged victims of Husel. Marshall said he was “crying ecstatically” while he visited his brother in the ICU at Mount Carmel.
Timmons, a 39-year-old who arrived at Mount Carmel West suffering from compartment syndrome, a “surgical emergency” that Dr. Wesley Ely said in earlier testimony deprives blood flow to your muscles, died Oct. 24, 2018, after being administered 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl and several other drugs from Husel.
Ely said Timmons, who had substance use disorder, did not need to be administered such a large dose of the drug and argued that there were other medical avenues that could have saved Timmons’ life.
“He could recover from that and live a life of recovery, like thousands, millions of people do all over the world, and I don’t understand why he couldn’t be given that chance,” he said.
Marshall said when he first arrived at the hospital, a nurse instructed him that he could return to his home in West Virginia and come back to Mount Carmel on Friday, as Timmons would likely recover.
That same evening, a different nurse told him the opposite — that he “shouldn’t go far because his brother wasn’t gonna make it through the night,” Marshall testified.
He said he and his girlfriend left the hospital to stay at the house of his girlfriend’s sister in the area, and Marshall said he received a total of three requests from Mount Carmel to switch Timmons’ code status to do not resuscitate. On each request, he refused to change his order to DNR.
“I told them to save him; I wouldn’t give them a DNR order,” Marshall said.
After the third phone call, Marshall returned to Mount Carmel, where he said nurses made it seem as though there was no other option but to remove his brother from life support.
Marshall testified that although he eventually agreed to move his brother’s code status to do not resuscitate, he did not authorize the administration of 1,000 micrograms of fentanyl to his brother.
Monday’s testimony included former intensive care unit nurses from Mount Carmel West who described what it was like to work with Husel.
Some ICU nurses also testified last week, saying that under Husel’s direction, they administered potentially fatal doses of fentanyl to critically ill patients. In addition, hospitalists contracted by Mount Carmel and physicians who signed the death certificates for several of Husel’s patients also testified last week.
Last Thursday, Dr. Wesley Ely, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University and pulmonary and critical care medicine specialist, returned to the stand after testifying Feb. 28, when he called the doses of fentanyl given to Husel’s patients “mind-boggling.”
High and combined doses of fentanyl and other drugs in the wrong circumstances, Ely said Thursday, could take a patient’s life because the body cannot sustain the escalation to fentanyl given by Husel.
During opening statements, Husel’s defense team put forth that the doctor was providing “comfort care” for patients who were reaching the end of their lives.
Attorneys have said the trial could last at least eight weeks.
Here are some of the individuals who may appear during the proceedings:
- Michael Holbrook
- Dr. William Husel
- Jose Baez
- Jaime Lapidus
- Diane Menashe
- Corinne Buker
- Paula Sawyers
- Taylor Mick
- David Zeyen
- Janet Grubb