TYLER, Texas (AP) — A Texas nurse was convicted Tuesday of
capital murder in the deaths of four patients who died after prosecutors say he
injected them with air following heart surgeries.
The Smith County jury deliberated for about an hour before
finding William George Davis, of Hallsville, guilty of capital murder involving
multiple victims. Prosecutors planned to seek the death penalty during the
sentencing phase, which was scheduled to start Wednesday.
Davis, 37, was accused of injecting air into the four
patients' arteries after they underwent heart surgery at the Christus Trinity
Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler in 2017 and 2018. During recovery from their
surgeries, the four — John Lafferty, Ronald Clark, Christopher Greenway and
Joseph Kalina — suffered unexplained neurological problems and died.
During the trial, Dr. William Yarbrough, a Dallas-area
pulmonologist and professor of internal medicine, explained to the jury how
injecting air into the arterial system of the brain causes brain injury and
Yarbrough said he was able to determine there was air in the
arterial system of the victims’ brains by viewing images from brain scans —
something he said he had never before observed in his decades in medicine.
He ruled out blood pressure problems or any other causes of
death besides the injection of air, and said it must have happened after the
surgeries because the complications occurred while the patients were in
Defense attorney Phillip Hayes told the jury that the
hospital had issues and that Davis was a scapegoat who was only charged because
he was there when the deaths occurred.
Prosecutor Chris Gatewood said during closing arguments that
Davis “liked to kill people.” And prosecutor Jacob Putnam said the hospital
hadn't changed any of its procedures and hadn't had any similar incidents since