COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The defense announced Thursday they had rested their case in the murder trial against a former Mount Carmel West doctor.
Judge Michael Holbrook says the jury will hear closing arguments Monday. Court has been adjourned for the day.
The prosecution rested its case Tuesday in the murder trial against former doctor William Husel, 46, who has pleaded not guilty to murder charges in the deaths of 14 intensive care patients at the former Mount Carmel West hospital from 2015 to 2018.
The only witness the defense called was an anesthesiologist who testified that Husel’s patients were too ill to fully recover. The defense claimed at the beginning of the trial that Husel was providing “comfort care” for his patients when he prescribed the allegedly lethal doses of drugs.
Dr. Joel Zivot, a physician at Emory University in Atlanta, was asked by defense attorney Jose Baez about painkillers used in palliative extubations, like fentanyl. Unlike morphine, Zivot said fentanyl has a short half-life (the amount of time it takes a drug’s active ingredients to be reduced by half), allowing doctors to order much larger doses of the painkiller.
Zivot used a marker to illustrate a medical process known as titration, which he said deals with doctors determining the sufficient dose to give a patient in order to match or surpass the level of pain a patient is experiencing.
Baez also asked Zivot about his characterization of Husel’s 14 patients, whom Zivot claimed had “severe and unrecoverable illnesses” that made recovery to a normal state of health impossible. Zivot also testified that the cause of death for each of the 14 patients was due to their underlying medical conditions.
Prosecutor Taylor Mick cross-examined Zivot about news articles he wrote in which he condemned physician-assisted suicide.
Reading verbatim from an article Zivot wrote, Mick said, “Doctors have the power to spin a convincing case for withdrawal of care when patients are ill, and the patients’ families believe that the choice before them is the only one. It is important to recognize that so empowered, some physicians will act to end life.”
Zivot, while he affirmed that he wrote the aforementioned statement, said it was only made in the context of physician-assisted suicide.
While prosecutors allege that Husel ordered excessive, fatal doses of the painkiller fentanyl for his patients, defense attorneys contend that the doctor was providing comfort care for critically ill patients as they were removed from a ventilator.
During the first six-plus weeks of the trial, the prosecution’s witnesses ranged from family members of critically ill patients who later died at Mount Carmel to nurses who administered potentially lethal doses of painkillers, some giving emotional testimony as they described their family member’s care under Husel, while medical professionals who worked directly with Husel often described him as a helpful mentor. In all, 53 witnesses took the stand for the prosecution.
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