COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The murder trial against former Mount Carmel West Dr. William Husel ended Thursday for the week with testimony from a former Mount Carmel West nurse and three family members of alleged victims.
Nearly 50 witnesses have taken the stand thus far through the first five weeks of the trial.
Husel, 46, 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.
Thursday morning, former Mount Carmel West ICU charge nurse Jason Schulze was called to testify by the prosecution. Schulze was questioned about the care and medical history of Troy Allison, one of Husel’s alleged victims, who he cared for while he was in the ICU.
After being answering the prosecution’s questions about Allison’s care, Husel’s defense attorney Jose Baez questioned Schulze.
“You have to have a tight-knit group to work effectively,” Schulze said about working in the ICU at Mount Carmel West.
After Schulze, John Burke, son of one of Husel’s alleged victims Francis Burke, took the stand. He was questioned about the day his mother died, from the time she suffered a stroke at home to her death in the ICU about six hours later.
Burke said that Mount Carmel West reached out to him after his mother’s passing, and said they were investigating an overdose of Francis Burke.
In cross-examination, Diane Menashe on behalf of Husel asked questions about whether John Burke had met Husel in the hospital and about the circumstances surrounding his mother’s death.
Beverly Leonard, daughter of Melissa Penix, took the stand after Burke. Leonard spoke about her mother’s stay at Mount Carmel, and said she visited her every day. Leonard detailed her mother’s illness during the hospital visit, including pneumonia.
Leonard recalled the day Penix was declared “brain dead” by Husel, which put family members “in a state of shock,” Leonard said, because Penix was talking just three hours prior.
“How’d we get there? How’d that happen?” she recalled thinking when Husel informed her of Penix’s condition.
Menashe then questioned Leonard about her attending all but one day of the murder trial and taking notes during testimony as well as her mother’s medical records.
The fourth person called to the stand Thursday was Janet Watkins. Watkins stated that she was a close friend with medical power of attorney over alleged Husel victim Rebecca Walls. Watkins detailed taking Walls to Mount Carmel West for a heart catheterization and the deterioration of her health and subsequent death after she was admitted to the hospital and ICU for that procedure.
On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday this week, Dr. John Walther Schweiger, a Tampa anesthesiologist and critical care physician, testifying as an expert witness for the prosecution before he was questioned by Husel defense attorney Diane Menashe Wednesday.
Schweiger testified that he reviewed the medical records for Husel’s patients, saying that in 13 of the 14 cases he looked at, he believes the administration of medications given to them and prescribed by Husel hastened or caused their deaths.
Menashe questioned Schweiger about his credentials and history as an expert witness for legal cases. Schweiger stated this trial is the first criminal trial in which he has testified.
Menashe also asked Schweiger whether there is anything documented that would indicate Husel’s intent to kill the patients and whether any motive existed as to why Husel would want to hasten the lives of these patients.
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