April 2020 trial date set for former Mount Carmel doctor charged in fatal overdoses

William Husel appears in court during a pre-trial hearing - July 18, 2019 (WBNS-10TV)
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The trial for a former doctor at Mount Carmel West charged with 25 counts of murder is set to begin on April 27, 2020.

Husel is accused of ordering excessive painkiller doses given to dozens of patients who later died.

His lawyer said Husel was trying to provide "comfort care" for dying patients and didn't intend to hasten their deaths, as prosecutors allege.

During a pre-trial hearing in Franklin County Thursday, Judge Michael Holbrook said the trial could take four to eight weeks, given the number of victims.

There also are 30,000 medical records and documents involved.

The case is considered one of the largest murder trials in Franklin County history, according to the judge.

Husel pleaded not guilty to all charges in June. His bail was set at $1 million. He posted a surety bond and was released two days later.

On Thursday, the judge added conditions to Husel’s bond. He will have to check in biweekly and get prior approval to leave central Ohio. He cannot leave the state at all.

“When we met with the victims’ families, that was one of the concerns that they raised as to, he did post a large bond, but having posted that, there was no monitoring of him in the interim, and so I think that that’s an appropriate term and condition to place on his continued bond,” said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.

O’Brien also said he did not anticipate having trouble seating a jury in Franklin County.

And he pointed out that the Ohio Supreme Court has ruled that an effort must be made to seat a jury before a change of venue could be approved.

And publicity of the case would only be one factor. O’Brien said potential jurors would certainly be asked if they are aware of the case. But that would not be an automatic dismissal. They also would be asked follow-up questions about whether they have formed an opinion in the case and, if so, whether they can set aside that opinion to be impartial.

The judge said he expects to subpoena 500 people for each of the initial two days of jury selection. That is set to happen on April 23 and 24.

The next court hearing is set for 9 a.m. on Sept. 27.

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