NBC4 is livestreaming the trial in the video player above and on the NBC4 app. 5:25 p.m. update: Proceedings have ended for the day. The trial is expected to resume Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Husel, 46, is facing life in prison if convicted of any of the 14 counts of murder with which he is charged.
During their arguments, prosecutors will try to drive home their allegations that Husel ordered fatal doses of the painkiller fentanyl or other drugs for 14 patients, with the removal of a ventilator. Defense attorneys contend that the doctor was providing the patients with comfort care.
Prior to prosecuting attorney David Zeyen starting closing arguments, the dismissal of a juror who Judge Michael Holbrook said watched news coverage of the trial was discussed. Whether the juror was dismissed or not was not revealed after the attorneys and judge met for a sidebar discussion.
“Even though they were very critically ill and perhaps some of them were on a trajectory to die very soon anyway, you cannot hasten their death. You cannot quickly or painlessly cause the death of a dying person. You can’t do it — not in the state of Ohio,” Zeyen said to the jury.
The 53 witnesses called by the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office team ranged from former Mount Carmel executives, nurses, and pharmacists to victims’ family members, a Columbus Division of Police detective, and expert doctors.
Zeyen reminded the jury of the testimonies given by those expert doctors who said the amount of fentanyl Husel was administering was an uncommon practice, and that Husel did not consult for a second opinion from other ICU doctors before administering the fentanyl doses.
CLICK HERE for a detailed recap and summary of every day of testimony from the six-week trial.
Using PowerPoint slides, Zeyen rattled off the list of Husel’s 14 alleged victims and gave the jury a recap of why the patient arrived at Mount Carmel and their final moments at the ICU.
He pointed out the case of Troy Allison, 44, who died on July 15, 2018 after receiving what his family members said was a lethal dose of fentanyl. Zeyen said that one minute after Allison was pronounced dead, brain scan results from his CT scan came back, indicating that nothing abnormal was occurring with Allison’s brain. Zeyen claimed that Husel did not wait for the CT scan results before removing Allison from the ventilator and administering painkillers.
“Was he given a chance to be in the ICU to see if his body could recover?” Zeyen asked.
While concluding the prosecution’s closing arguments, Zeyen stated that Dr. Zivot’s expert testimony did not include a detailed analysis of the medical charts of the 14 patients Husel is accused of killing like the state’s expert witnesses, Dr. Wes Ely of Vanderbilt University and Dr. John Walther Schweiger of Tampa General Hospital, but rather generalities about dosage practices.
Prosecuting attorneys include Zeyen, Janet Grubb, Paula Sawyers, Taylor Mick, and Corinne Buker.
After Monday’s lunch break, Baez delivered the closing arguments in defense of Husel.
“How can you say [the drugs are] going to hasten someone’s death if you don’t know how long they had to live to begin with?” Baez asked the jury while saying the prosecution’s witnesses did not say “how” exactly the painkillers prescribed by Husel “hastened” their deaths.
Baez asked the jury to use “common sense.” He stated that common sense says Husel had “no reason, no motive” to kill patients.
Continuing his arguments, Baez also took issue with the prosecution’s conflation of street fentanyl and the fentanyl used in hospitals.
“It’s easy to drop that f-bomb: fentanyl. And make that argument when you don’t have evidence,” he said.
Baez told the jury Husel cared for his patients and their cause of death was the turning off of the ventilator, not the drugs he prescribed. He used patient Beverly Schirtzinger as an example.
He stated Husel tried “14 different measures of trying to save her life.”
Baez continued down the list of several of the 14 patients Husel is accused of murdering detailing their health ailments, potential of opioid tolerance, and ways Husel tried to keep them alive prior to the removal of the ventilator.
“Do not allow this misguided case to misguide you,” Baez said to the jury at the conclusion of his closing argument. “If you saw evidence of William Husel intending on killing people, then I will sit down.”
Prosecuting attorney David Zeyen gave his rebuttal to Baez’s closing argument after a quick break in proceedings.
Zeyen said to the jury, “You don’t get a pass for killing a dying man, even if you are doctor of the year.”
A possible reason for the postponement of closing arguments came to light last week when the Ohio Supreme Court confirmed it had received an affidavit of disqualification to have Judge Michael Holbrook removed from presiding over the case. The affidavit was filed along with a motion to seal it, keeping its contents concealed for the time; therefore, it is not known who filed the request nor the reasoning for it.
The cases date to 2015, with Husel being pulled from patient care in late 2018 and fired shortly after. He was indicted in 2019 and pleaded not guilty.
- 2015-2018: Patients in Husel’s care die allegedly from an excess amount of painkillers he prescribed
- December 5, 2018: Mount Carmel fires Husel; notifies Franklin County Prosecutor & State Medical Board of Ohio of his actions
- January 14, 2019: Allegations against Husel become public as Mount Carmel reveals the deaths of dozens of patients who received potentially fatal doses of pain medication
- January 25, 2019: State Medical Board of Ohio suspends Husel’s medical license
- June 5, 2019: Husel turns himself in to police, charged with 25 counts of murder
- June 7, 2019: Husel posts bond, released from jail
- July 11, 2019: Mount Carmel CEO resigns; 23 Mount Carmel employees fired in connection to Husel case
- August 7, 2019: Husel hires Jose Baez as defense attorney
- December 26, 2019: Husel files defamation lawsuit against Mount Carmel Health
- January 20, 2022: 11 of the 25 murder charges against Husel dropped
- February 14, 2022: Jury selection begins
- February 16, 2022: 12 jurors and six alternates selected
- February 22, 2022: Prosecution and defense give opening statements; prosecution begins nearly six-week process of calling witnesses
- March 29, 2022: Prosecution rests case after calling 53 witnesses
- March 30, 2022: Defense calls first and only witness
- March 31, 2022: Defense rests case