William Husel found not guilty in one of Ohio’s largest murder cases< < Back to
COLUMBUS, Ohio (WOSU) — A jury has found former Mount Carmel doctor William Husel not guilty on all 14 counts of murder.
Husel was charged with murdering 14 patients at Columbus’ Mount Carmel West Hospital by prescribing them too much of the opioid fentanyl. The defense argued Husel was providing comfort care to dying patients.
In December 2021 Husel’s defense tried to convince a Franklin County judge to dismiss the indictments, but the judge denied that request. Last week, an affidavit of disqualification was filed seeking the removal of Judge Michael Holbrook from the case.
Pharmacists who worked with Husel at Mount Carmel were questioned during the prosecution’s case. Pharmacist Gregory Dresbach told prosecutors he too thought it was a clerical error the first time he saw a 1,000 microgram fentanyl dose ordered by Husel.
“Even beyond that, I was concerned about the fact that people were overriding at one time, such high doses. And then on top of it, one person was removing them and another person was apparently giving them,” Dresbach said.
Dresbach said when he inquired about such a dose for one patient, he said he received no explanation and so he rejected the order and the drug was given anyway.
Pharmacist Talon Schroyer also told prosecutors about a time he questioned one of Husel’s orders.
“I asked something to the effect of ‘Hey, doc, I got this order for fentanyl here. Did you add an extra 01 or something?’ And he said, ‘Nope. We’re doing a procedure up here. That’s what I ordered.’ I said, ‘Okay’ and I hung up and verified the order,” said Schroyer.
Prosecutors called more than 50 witnesses to the stand over the course of over a month. Defense attorneys rested their case after calling only one witness.
The witness for the defense was Dr. Joel Zivot, an anesthesiologist and intensive care specialist at Emory University in Atlanta. Zivot spoke at length about the use of opioids to treat pain in dying patients and why there is no maximum dose.
Prosecutors had previously filed a motion to prevent Zivot and two other experts from testifying, arguing Zivot relied on improper information — including contact with Husel — to form his opinion.
Husel filed a lawsuit against Mount Carmel Health System in December 2019, claiming that he has “suffered perhaps the most egregious case of defamation in Ohio’s recent history.”
Mount Carmel Health System settled with the Ohio Board of Pharmacy for nearly $480,000 in January 2019 following an investigation into dosing practices and Husel.
Mount Carmel has paid $4.5 million in settlements over the deaths of patients who allegedly received excessive painkiller doses ordered by Husel.