The new Franklin County prosecutor says the number of murder charges against Dr. William Husel should be reduced because he “can only serve so many life terms.” Husel faces 25 counts of murder in the overdose deaths of intensive care patients under his care in a Mount Carmel Health hospital.
A better approach
Franklin County prosecutor Gary Tyack said recently that “it made no sense” when intensive-care physician Husel was over-indicted with 25 counts of murder in June 2019. He said a better approach will be to pick “a finite number” of “cases that are the best to make” and then dismiss the rest.
Each murder charge carries a mandatory sentence of 15 years to life in prison if convicted.
When asked if he expects victims’ families to object to a reduction in murder charges, Tyack said they will “at some point in time will have to come to terms with the fact” that Husel can only effectively serve one life term.
Victims’ families expected to approve
Columbus attorney Gerald Leeseberg’s law firm represents the families of 17 overdose victims in civil lawsuits against Husel. He said he doesn’t think families will be upset by a reduction in murder counts against Husel.
“Their interest is in having Husel held responsible for his actions,” Leeseberg said, “and if that is achieved in their case or any other cases, I think they would be satisfied.”
He said it’s “wise and prudent” to reduce the number of charges if there “won’t be any practical difference” in the sentence Husel serves after conviction.
“As an attorney, whether civil or criminal, it always makes sense to identify the strongest cases and focus your attention, efforts and resources on those cases,” Leeseberg said. “And it is clear, based on the facts we have developed from discovery in the civil cases, that Husel’s actions were much more egregious and extreme in some cases than in others.”
The Columbus Dispatch reported that investigators initially reviewed 35 cases of ICU deaths under Husel’s care that were considered suspicious. Former Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’Brien’s office chose 25 to present to a grand jury for indictment.
O’Brien said that each of the victims was given a medically unnecessary dose of at least 500 micrograms of fentanyl. He said “the only purpose” of administering those doses to victims “would be to hasten their deaths.”