COLUMBUS, Ohio — On the heels of a criminal trial, prosecutors have confirmed to 10 Investigates that a Jan. 20 hearing will take place to discuss dismissing some of the 25 murder charges against Dr. William Husel, a former Mount Carmel physician accused of ordering potentially deadly doses of pain medication for his patients.
On Friday evening, Prosecutor Janet Grubb confirmed to 10 Investigates that the hearing date was set.
Judge Michael Holbrook told 10 Investigates earlier Friday that prosecutors indicated to him that a hearing on that subject would be necessary.
While the Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office has declined to comment, the consideration of dismissing some of the murder counts against Husel could mean he’ll face fewer than 25 murder charges when his trial is set to start in February.
The parties acknowledge this topic has been discussed in the months that followed Husel’s indictment in June 2019.
Those rumblings resurfaced Thursday when 10 Investigates received a tip.
Following a call from 10 Investigates Thursday asking about if prosecutors were considering dropping some of the murder charges against Dr. William Husel, Holbrook said his staff attorney emailed the Franklin County Prosecutor’s office– alerting them that if that’s something prosecutors are considering, a hearing would be necessary.
Prosecutors indicated they would need a hearing, according to Holbrook.
“I reminded them that time is of the essence,” Holbrook told 10 Investigates.
Husel’s trial is scheduled to start next month, and jury selection was slated to begin in early February, which is why Holbrook wants to schedule this hearing around the end of the month.
Husel, a former Mount Carmel critical care physician, was fired by Mount Carmel in December of 2018.
He was indicted in June 2019 – charged with 25 counts of murder. Prosecutors allege that Husel ordered excessive or potentially fatal doses of fentanyl be given to patients under his care. All of them died. Husel has pleaded not guilty.
The judge said he felt a hearing to discuss dismissing charges was required because of Marsy’s law – a law enacted that guarantees victims have the right to speak at a hearing.
Initially, prosecutors chose to focus their case on patients who received 500 micrograms of fentanyl or more.
Central to the criminal case is whether or not the drugs hastened the deaths of these patients, as prosecutors have alleged.
Husel’s attorney, Jose Baez, has said repeatedly that his client did nothing wrong and was providing comfort care to patients in their final moments of life.
Following Husel’s most recent court hearing in December, Baez told reporters that “we shouldn’t be here.”
“Dr. Husel practiced medicine with compassion and care. That was hit intent. And under the law – Ohio law – is that even if that killed them, so long as his intention was medically-based, then it’s not murder,” Baez said following the December hearing. “It’s to treat someone. Taking them off life-support is what ultimately killed them.”
Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack had previously hinted that dismissing charges was a possibility.
Prosecutors have alleged that Husel ordered excessive doses of fentanyl that were ultimately given to patients under his care. All of them died. Prosecutors alleged that the doses weren’t medically necessary and hastened the deaths of these patients.
In a story published Jan. 7, 2021, Franklin County Prosecutor Gary Tyack told the Columbus Dispatch:
"Speaking just for myself, I think it made no sense when they indicted it, I think it makes no sense going forward with the huge number of cases," Tyack said. "What we should do as the prosecution is pick a finite number, a small number of cases that are the best to make as the prosecutor and dismiss the rest because there is nothing to be gained other than turning it into a show."
Tyack’s remarks to the newspaper came a couple of months after he was elected as Franklin County Prosecutor, unseating long-serving prosecutor Ron O’Brien.