Motion to disqualify judge filed in doctor’s murder trial

April 7, 2022 GMT

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The weekslong trial of an Ohio doctor charged in multiple hospital deaths hit a bump in the road this week after a motion was filed seeking to disqualify the judge overseeing the case.

Dr. William Husel is accused of ordering excessive painkillers for 14 patients in the Columbus-area Mount Carmel Health System. He was indicted in cases involving at least 500 micrograms of the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

The prosecution and defense both rested last week but closing arguments have been repeatedly rescheduled and are now set for Monday, a week after their original date.

On Thursday, Ohio Supreme Court spokesperson Lyn Tolan confirmed that an affidavit for disqualification — a motion for removing judges — was filed in the Husel case. Tolan said the affidavit has been sealed and no further details were available.

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Janet Grubb, Franklin County first assistant prosecutor, declined comment. Messages were left for attorneys for Husel and with Franklin County Judge Michael Holbrook.

Prosecutors have said ordering such dosages for a nonsurgical situation indicated an intent to end lives. His attorneys say he was providing comfort care for dying patients, not trying to kill them. Husel has pleaded not guilty to 14 counts of murder.

Jurors seated for the trial heard from 53 prosecution witnesses since the trial began Feb. 22, including medical experts, Mount Carmel employees, investigators, and family members of all 14 patients. Prosecutors took five weeks to present their case.

Defense lawyers called a single witness on March 30 — a Georgia anesthesiologist who testified that Husel’s patients died from their medical conditions and not Husel’s actions. The defense rested the following day.

Mount Carmel has reached settlements totaling more than $16.7 million over the deaths of at least 17 patients, with more lawsuits pending.