NATIONAL NEWS

Ohio doctor accused of overprescribing fentanyl to the dying found not guilty of murder

Apr 20, 2022, 11:19 AM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 3:16 pm
An Ohio jury has reached a verdict Wednesday in the murder trial of William Husel, the doctor accus...
An Ohio jury has reached a verdict Wednesday in the murder trial of William Husel, the doctor accused of overprescribing fentanyl to his critically ill patients. (Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/Pool/AP via CNN)
(Barbara J. Perenic/Columbus Dispatch/Pool/AP via CNN)

(CNN) — The Ohio doctor accused of overprescribing fentanyl to his critically ill patients and hastening their deaths was found not guilty of 14 counts of murder on Wednesday.

William Husel and his attorney embraced at the defense table after the 14th and final not guilty verdict was read in court. He was subsequently discharged from the courtroom. Franklin County Ohio prosecutor Gary Tyack said in a statement, “We accept the jury verdict.”

The decision comes just over a week after jurors began deliberating and days after they said they were at an impasse and could not reach a unanimous verdict, leading Franklin County Judge Michael Holbrook to instruct them to continue their deliberations.

Husel faced 14 counts of murder as prosecutors said he purposely administered excessive doses of fentanyl that caused or sped up the deaths of patients in the intensive care unit from 2015 to 2018. All of the counts also included the lesser charge of attempted murder.

“If you hasten a person’s death, even if their death is as sure as the sun is going to rise in the morning, if you hasten that along, you have caused their death under the eyes of the law,” Franklin County prosecutor David Zeyen said in closing arguments.

Defense attorney Jose Baez argued prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the doses actually hastened the patients’ deaths or that Husel purposely intended to kill the patients.

The trial began in February, with over 50 witnesses testifying for the prosecution, including doctors, nurses and administrative employees of Mount Carmel Hospital West, where Husel worked as the night ICU physician.

Family members detailed the stories of their loved ones declining quickly once at the hospital, as well as their experiences with Husel and the ICU. Experts also told the court the large fentanyl doses Husel gave to patients caused their deaths and were intended to accelerate the dying process.

Despite the accusations, Husel’s former colleagues testified that he was a wonderful doctor who was hardworking, fought to save people’s lives, was helpful to everyone in the ICU unit and was always there to teach and explain.

Husel’s defense called just one witness, Dr. Joel Zivot, who studied the medical records of the 14 patients and determined they had severe and unrecoverable illnesses. Zivot also testified that recovery to a normal state of health was not possible for the patients, and he determined underlying medical issues caused their deaths.

Husel did not take the stand. His medical license is currently suspended, defense counsel confirmed to CNN.

How we got here

The trial comes almost three years after Husel, 46, was indicted on 25 counts of murder, though 11 of those counts were dismissed pretrial.

The Mount Carmel Health System initially said the hospital received a report related to Husel’s care on October 25, 2018. The hospital system removed Husel from patient care a month later. In that period, three people died “after receiving excessive and potentially fatal doses of medication” ordered by the doctor, the hospital said in a statement.

Husel was fired December 5, 2018. That same month, an attorney representing Mount Carmel reached out to the Franklin County prosecutor’s office, launching an investigation into Husel.

During their initial conversations, the attorney said a doctor — later identified as Husel — was “administering doses of fentanyl at a level that they internally believed were inappropriate and not for a legitimate medical purpose,” said Ron O’Brien, the Franklin County prosecutor at the time.

The investigation found the doses, which ranged from 500 to 2,000 micrograms, “were designed to hasten the death of the patients that were being treated,” O’Brien said.

Fentanyl is an opioid used to treat patients with chronic severe pain or severe pain after surgery, according to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The drug, about 100 times more potent than morphine, is also often used in end-of-life care to reduce discomfort in dying patients.

The DEA considers 2 milligrams of fentanyl, or 2,000 micrograms, to be a potentially lethal dose.


The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

A woman is pushing a patient bed through a hospital hallway....
Deidre McPhillips, CNN

Hospitals in the US are the fullest they’ve been throughout the pandemic — but it’s not just COVID-19

(CNN) — Hospitals are more full than they’ve been throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a CNN analysis of data from the US Department of Health and Human Services. But as respiratory virus season surges across the US, it’s much more than Covid that’s filling beds this year. More than 80% of hospital beds are […]
16 hours ago
Two women are signing banknotes....
Betsy Klein, CNN

Yellen sees her signature printed on US bills for the first time

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen traveled to Texas Thursday to mark an important and historic milestone, touring the Fort Worth Bureau of Engraving and Printing facility to observe firsthand the printing of $1 and $5 bills with her signature for the first time.
16 hours ago
FILE - Paul Whelan, a former U.S. marine who was arrested for alleged spying, listens to the verdic...
Mike Householder and Kathleen Foody, Associated Press

Family of American prisoner Paul Whelan backs Griner deal

The family of an American detained in Russia for nearly four years says the Biden administration made the right decision by agreeing to a prisoner exchange that freed WNBA star Brittney Griner.
16 hours ago
Mortgage rates fall for the fourth week in a row. Pictured is a housing development in Folsom, Cali...
Anna Bahney, CNN

Mortgage rates fall for the fourth week in a row

Mortgage rates dipped again this week, dropping for the fourth week in a row.
16 hours ago
Celine Dion performs onstage at All-Star Lineup Pays Tribute At "Aretha! A GRAMMY Celebration Fo...
Associated Press

Celine Dion cancels shows because of stiff person syndrome

Celine Dion has put a halt on all performing after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder.
16 hours ago
FILE: The U.S. Capitol Building is seen on Sept. 27, 2022 in Washington, DC. Later today the U.S. S...
MARY CLARE JALONICK, Associated Press

Bill protecting same-sex, interracial unions clears Congress

The House gave final approval Thursday to protections for same-sex marriages. The vote sends the legislation to President Joe Biden, a monumental step in a decadeslong battle for nationwide recognition of such unions
16 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Ohio doctor accused of overprescribing fentanyl to the dying found not guilty of murder