He was entrusted with their care when they were most vulnerable, but prosecutors say William Davis secretly preyed on recovering heart surgery patients at a Texas hospital, where he worked as a nurse by injecting air into their veins.
Four patients Mr Davis later injected died as their once encouraging conditions rapidly deteriorated and confused doctors, authorities said. He had injected at least seven patients in total, they said.
On Tuesday, a jury in Tyler, Texas, convicted Mr. Davis of murdering the four men after about an hour of deliberation. The verdict was confirmed by Kaylee Hahn, an administrator of the 114th court, who said the sentencing phase of the trial would begin Wednesday.
Prosecutors demanded the death penalty for Mr Davis, 37, who had been working for Christ Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler when patients developed complications after heart surgery in 2017 and 2018. He was released about a month before his arrest in April. . 2018. Tyler is located about 100 miles east of Dallas.
During the trial, prosecutors presented a portrait of Mr. Davis as a sadistic caregiver who slipped into the patient’s rooms with no one watching and “enjoyed” injecting air into their arterial lines causing deadly brain damage.
Doctors were unable to explain what could have gone wrong until, authorities said, they saw CT scans that showed air in the patient’s brain. During the trial, prosecutors played back CCTV footage showing Mr. Davis entering the room of one of the patients. Three minutes later, the patient’s heart monitor alarm went off. He died later.
“It turns out that a hospital is the perfect place for a serial killer to hide,” Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said at the trial.
The victims were: Ronald Clark, 68; Christopher Greenaway, 47; Joseph Kalina, 58; and John Lafferty, 74.
The Smith County District Attorney’s office declined to comment Tuesday due to ongoing criminal proceedings in the trial, which began Sept. 28.
Phillip Hayes, an attorney for Mr. Davis, who lives in Hallsville, Texas, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.
During the trial, Mr. Hayes said all the patients who died showed signs of stroke, a type of stroke that occurs when vulnerable areas of the brain supplied by the three main cerebral arteries don’t get enough blood. Mr Hayes called Mr Davis a scapegoat and also said the patients had underlying medical conditions prior to their death.
“I don’t know if there is any evidence to show it was foul play,” Mr Hayes said at the trial.
A spokesperson for Christ Mother Frances Hospital said in an email statement on Wednesday that protecting the health and well-being of patients remained a top priority, alongside “expanding the healing ministry of Jesus Christ.”
“The jury’s decision brings with it a range of emotions for our employees and – most importantly – the people and families harmed by Will Davis,” the spokesperson said. “We pray for our community and everyone involved, and hope the jury’s verdict will end those who were injured.”
Mr. Davis remains in custody in the Smith County Jail on an $8.75 million bond.
Jesus Jimenez reporting contributed.