Doctor Accused Of Murdering 14 Patients With Lethal Doses Of Fentanyl Found Not Guilty

[Shutterstock/ Darwin Brandis]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

An Ohio doctor accused of murdering more than a dozen patients by overprescribing fentanyl was found not guilty of murder Wednesday.

Dr. William Husel faced 14 counts of murder after prosecutors alleged he purposely gave intensive care unit patients more fentanyl than warranted, which they said either caused or accelerated their deaths between 2015 and 2018, according to 10 WBNS. Husel also faced attempted murder charges in the counts, according to CNN.

Franklin County prosecutor David Zeyen said, “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,” during closing arguments, according to CNN.

The case first began when the Mount Carmel Health System received a report pertaining to Husel’s treatment and subsequently removed him from patient care after a month, according to the report. The hospital said three patients died “after receiving excessive and potentially fatal doses of medication” ordered by Husel during that period, according to CNN.

Ron O’Brien, who was then the Franklin County prosecutor, alleged Husel was “administering doses of fentanyl at a level that they internally believed were inappropriate and not for a legitimate medical purpose.” (RELATED: Fentanyl Found In Air Vents Of Kids’ Detention Center, Hospitalizing 7)

The doses reportedly ranged from 500 to 2,000 micrograms. The Drug Enforcement Administration says 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl is potentially lethal.

Prosecutors alleged that in one case, a patient allegedly received a dosage that was 20 times higher than the recommended amount, according to The New York Times.

Defense attorney Jose Baez argued prosecutors failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the doses contributed to the deaths of the patients or that Husel intended to kill them, CNN reported.

Family members testified their loved ones rapidly deteriorated at the hospital, while former colleagues of Husel’s testified he was a good doctor who looked out for his patients, according to CNN.

Dr. Joel Zivot, who was called in by the defense, testified that the 14 patients had unrecoverable illnesses and that they all had underlying causes that accounted for their deaths, CNN reported.

Jurors previously deadlocked during deliberations and said they couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict, asking Judge Michael Holbrook for guidance on the term “reasonable doubt,” according to the outlet.