Forty witnesses have taken the stand thus far in the murder trial of Husel, 46, who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of 14 ICU patients who were under his care at the former Mount Carmel West from 2015 to 2018.
Monday morning, the prosecution called Christine Allison to the stand to begin the fifth week of testimony. Allison’s late husband, Troy Allison, died at the age of 44 while under Husel’s care at Mount Carmel West in 2018, after receiving a lethal dose of narcotics that served no therapeutic purpose according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed by his wife.
After the prosecution finished questioning her, Husel defense attorney Diane Menashe had a contentious exchange with Allison.
Menashe: “…you have a vested interest in the case, do you not?”
Allison: “Um, he killed my husband.”
Menashe: “And I realize that’s your belief…”
Allison: “No, it’s not my belief, that’s what happened. I was there, you were not.”
Menashe went on to question Allison about her pending lawsuits against Mount Carmel and Husel and the multiple interviews she has given to the members of the media.
“I will tell anyone who wants to listen,” Allison said. “That hospital needs to be shut down, and that man needs to go to prison.”
Once Allison left the witness stand, the prosecution called Robert Hodge, the son of Jeremia “Sue” Hodge, one of Husel’s former patients, to testify.
In a wrongful death lawsuit filed in April 2019, Hodge alleged that his mother was taken to the emergency department at Mount Carmel after experiencing “shortness of breath.”
Husel, assigned to Hodge’s care, told family members that her organs were shutting down and a decision needed to be made “about whether to withdraw life support,” according to the complaint. Robert testified that Husel told him and other family members that he would help Hodge “pass easy” but did not explain how he would do that.
“With no chance, we didn’t want her to lay there and suffer,” Robert testified.
He then allegedly ordered an “excess of 500 micrograms” of fentanyl for Sue Hodge, and she died shortly after, the complaint said.
After a settlement reached between the parties, Robert dismissed all claims filed against the defendants, effectively terminating the case, according to court documents with the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
Monday’s third witness was Dr. John Walther Schweiger, a Tampa anesthesiologist and critical care physician, who spoke about highly technical medical procedures — including using vasopressers to help normalize the pH of critically ill patients’ blood and what it means for a patient to be brain dead.
Schweiger said that brain death, which was the diagnosis for many of Husel’s former patients, occurs when the cognitive functions of the brain, like emotions and thoughts, have been lost. In addition, a person’s autonomic functions — like when your brain tells your heart to beat or your lungs to breathe — are also lost.
In order to diagnose a patient as brain dead, Schweiger said the patient must go through nuclear imaging to determine whether blood is still flowing to the head.
“If there’s no blood flow, then we can say the patient is definitively brain dead,” Schweiger said.
Schweiger also testified about dosing levels and claimed that elderly patients typically do not need as large of medication doses as younger patients in order to get the same effect.
For several of Husel’s patients, medical records indicated that nurses recorded patient pain levels from 0, no pain, to 8 or 10, the maximum pain levels, instantly. Schweiger said in all his years working in an ICU, he’s never seen such a quick jump — it’s typically a more gradual climb, he said.
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 about 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