Husel’s lawyers seek dismissal of murder charges, alleging prosecutorial misconduct

Husel’s lawyers seek dismissal of murder charges, alleging prosecutorial misconduct

John Futty
 
| The Columbus Dispatch

The lead defense attorney for Dr. William Husel, who is facing 25 counts of murder for the overdose deaths of Mount Carmel Health intensive-care patients, has filed a motion seeking dismissal of the case, alleging misconduct by the Franklin County prosecutor’s office.

“This is a disgrace, nothing short of it,” attorney Jose Baez said of the criminal case advanced against Husel by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. “His behavior is unconscionable.”

Baez, whose practice is based in Miami, Fla., where he gained fame by successfully defending Casey Anthony against charges that she murdered her 2-year-old daughter, made his remarks after a hearing Wednesday in Husel’s case in Franklin County Common Pleas Court.

“This is how celebrity lawyers from Miami practice law,” O’Brien said in response to Baez’s comments. “By attacking the prosecutor, filing frivolous motions and making demands on the court.”

More: Working with Dr. Husel at Mount Carmel brought trouble to colleagues

Baez’s motion to dismiss, filed Tuesday, argues that prosecutors are basing their case on the assertion that by giving intensive-care patients at Mount Carmel Health hospitals more than 500 micrograms of the opioid fentanyl, Husel’s intent was to end their lives. The motion contends that prosecutors withheld from the grand jury information about a patient who received well over that dosage and died days later with no fentanyl in her system.

The motion accuses O’Brien of concealing information about that patient from the grand jury and defense attorneys because it proved that the prosecution’s theory of the case is based on a “false narrative” about dosage levels.

More: Pandemic concerns force delay of William Husel murder trial

The information about the excluded patient, referred to in the motion as Patient TY, “blows their entire case out of the water, completely,” Baez said.

Despite conducting a hearing Wednesday in the case at the defense’s request, Judge Michael J. Holbrook agreed with prosecutors that they have 14 days to respond to the defense motion and wouldn’t allow the defense to present evidence of its claims during the hearing.

Holbrook scheduled another hearing for Nov. 23 to address the motion to dismiss and other matters. The defense also filed a motion seeking copies of grand jury testimony to review the prosecution’s presentation of evidence.

When Holbrook asked the defense and prosecution if they were concerned that the ongoing pandemic might jeopardize a planned May 10 trial date, Baez suggested that his motion makes a trial unlikely.

“Frankly, I don’t see how the state gets beyond this motion,” he said.

More: Michigan judge: Mount Carmel parent company doesn’t have to pay Husel’s legal costs

Both sides agreed that there is time to consider pandemic issues at a later date.

Husel, 44, who is free on $1 million bond, did not speak during the hearing nor as he stood beside Baez outside the courtroom while Baez staged a press conference for reporters. 

During his conversation with reporters, Baez accused Republican O’Brien of using Husel’s high-profile prosecution to bolster his campaign for reelection in November against Democrat Gary Tyack, a former appeals court judge. 

“All of this is nonsense politics,” Baez said. “To use this man and his arrest as an advertisement for your campaign, it is disgusting.”

O’Brien countered that Husel’s case hasn’t been mentioned in any of his campaign ads.

“I have not at all, in any way, shape or form, tried to use this in my campaign,” he said.

O’Brien said Baez’s decision to file the motion and seek a court hearing two weeks before the election suggested that the other side was the one playing politics.

“The timing is very suspicious,” O’Brien said.

Husel, 44, was indicted in June 2019, several months after he was fired as an intensive-care physician for Mount Carmel Health System in the midst of an investigation of his involvement in questionable hospital deaths.

All but one of the patients who died were at the former Mount Carmel West hospital in Franklinton; one died at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s hospital in Westerville.

Husel’s team of attorneys, which includes Columbus lawyer Diane Menashe, have argued that the doctor was providing “comfort care” in ordering the use of painkillers for dying patients and wasn’t attempting to hasten any of their deaths.

jfutty@dispatch.com

@johnfutty

Published at Thu, 22 Oct 2020 04:17:00 +0000

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