On Wednesday, prosecutors announced that a doctor had been charged with 25 counts of murder for the deaths of patients. William Husel, 43, is accused of medical malpractice and prescribing excessive quantities of opioids, including doses that had the potential to be fatal, to dozens of patients. The charges were rendered after a six-month investigation into his activities.
Husel, a doctor in Ohio, voluntarily surrendered to law enforcement in Columbus once he was formally charged. He faces 25 murder counts after the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office completed a six-month investigation.
“I’ve been a prosecutor for 22 years and have not seen a 25-count indictment during those years,” said Ron O’Brien, a Franklin County prosecutor, according to a report by NBC News.
“This breach of a doctor’s oath is vile,” added Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan, “and that begins the process of holding the accused criminal responsible.
From 2015 to 2018, Husel worked with the Mount Carmel Health System. During that time, he reportedly ordered large amounts of fentanyl.
Many of the patients who later died after being prescribed the opioids were in poor health and older, increasing the risk that the doses could prove fatal.
During the investigation, 29 deaths were examined to determine if the large fentanyl doses were given as a way to hasten the deaths of those patients.
According to O’Brien, the doses Husel ordered “could not support any legitimate medical purpose” in 25 instances where the patient died, particularly since many of the patients were not alert when the doses were given. “If someone could not feel pain, there would be no legitimate medical reason to administer” the large doses of fentanyl, O’Brien stated.
Speaking about the charges, Richard Blake, Husel’s attorney, asserted that “this is not a murder case.”
“I can assure you there was never any attempt to euthanize anyone by Dr. Husel,” Blake continued. “At no time did he ever have the intent to euthanize anyone.”
Husel has pleaded not guilty. During his arraignment on Wednesday afternoon, his bond was set at $1 million. Husel has already surrendered his passport to authorities.
Blake stated that Husel “wants to clear his name at trial.” If convicted, Husel faces 15 years to life for each count.