Jury convicts William Davis of capital murder for deaths of CHRISTUS patients

William Davis Murder Trial

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – On Tuesday, a Smith County jury found William Davis guilty of capital murder for deaths of several patients while he was a nurse at CHRISTUS.

KETK spoke to Randy Roberts, Managing Attorney of Roberts and Roberts Attorneys at Law, who gave his opinion and insight about the case.

“It’s obvious from the jury’s verdict that the Smith County district attorney’s office did an excellent job in presenting the case,” Roberts said. “The jury would not overturn the verdict that quickly if they thought the district attorney’s office had been in a rush or sloppy or somehow not up to standards when they presented the case.”

Roberts said that hospitals and clinics will see tighter regulation and supervision of the entire staff with nurses up the chain to doctors and top management.

He also added that Davis could be sentenced with the death penalty.

“Given the speed of the jury’s verdict, that tells me they have no patience in the defendant. I don’t expect them to show any leniency or sympathy for the juror or the defendant’s background in this situation. I would expect the death penalty,” Roberts said.

Davis’s sentencing could take up to several weeks and will begin Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.

1:15 p.m.

A Smith County jury has found William Davis guilty of capital murder for deaths of multiple patients while he was a nurse at CHRISTUS.

The verdict came less than one hour after deliberations began. The trial lasted three-and-a-half weeks.

12:00 p.m.

The jury has begun deliberations in the William Davis capital murder trial after three hours worth of closing arguments.

11:55 a.m.

“Davis is changing his story based on who he is talking to,” Putman says of his shifting story when talking with his bosses at the hospital and detectives with Tyler police.

The defense had said during their closing argument that the only thing the prosecution has proved is that Davis was dishonest.

11:40 a.m.

“If the hospital is worried about their reputation and wants to hide it, you don’t call the police. An arrest leads to a media frenzy and that can be bad for business. What you would do is fire Davis and get him out and no one knows,” Putman said to the jury.

11:30 a.m.

Putman says that the addition of cameras to the hospital floor shows that when the last three patients suffered their medical events, the cameras showed that William Davis was in the room at the time.

He also says that Davis abused the trust that people put in hospital workers.

“We don’t trust anybody as much as we do than the people at the hospital. It’s when we’re at our most vulnerable… Nobody could imagine someone being that evil.”

Putman rips the argument that Davis was a “convienent scapegoat” for the hospital. He said that everyone liked Davis and that no one “had an axe to grind” with him. He was being recommended for further promotions.

11:25 a.m.

“The defense is trying to make it seem that these are all medical accidents based on past problems. The problem with that is that all the doctors and nurses said these patients were fine,” Putman says to the jury.

11:20 a.m.

Putman refutes defense saying the various amounts of air from the victims that lived vs those that died cast doubt on Davis’ guilt.

“The fact those two are still alive and the other four that are dead shows they had less air put into them.”

11:12 a.m.

Phillip Hayes has ended his closing argument after more than one hour. He slammed the prosecution’s case on relying on confirmation bias and that there was no evidence that showed William Davis even entered Chris Greenway’s room, the victim in the case that sparked the investigation.

He says that many of the state’s witness testimonies do not add up with medical records and that Davis on two of the cases provided life-saving measures.

“You don’t try and save people you’re trying to kill,” Hayes said.

Hayes also stated he does not believe that CHRISTUS framed William Davis.

“But I do believe they had some issues, whether it was in surgery or elsewhere, and he made a convenient scapegoat,” he said.

11:05 a.m.

Hayes shows slides from brain scans of the victims. The amount of air in each scan was inconsistent from victim to victim and that some neurologists testified that it was the classic signs of a watershed stroke.

10:41 a.m.

Hayes brings up that the neurologists who looked independently from the police investigation w/o knowledge of the backstory thought victims had a stroke. He said that confirmation bias is an error in the state’s cases.

He uses the analogy of two people watching a football game.

“You can watch the same close play of a catch on the sideline, but you’ll see it differently on whether the receiver was in or out. Why? Confirmation bias. You’ve picked a side.”

10:27 a.m.

“The entire prosecution sits on assumptions that are just plain wrong,” Hayes says.

Hayes says that there are contradictions on how long air would stay in the body after being injected and the way it would travel up the body.

10:20 a.m.

Phill Hayes says, “There was 18 people on that hospital floor and not one of them saw Mr. Davis enter Mr. Greenway’s room.”

10:15 a.m.

“The only video that has Mr. Greenway’s incident skips where it actually happens and leaves out 10 minutes,” Hayes says.

He says Davis is not shown on video outside Greenway’s room. This is when the lead nurse Ben Rasberry left Davis in charge while he got food.

10:02 a.m.

Gatewood wraps up the prosecution’s closing argument by saying that Davis’ motive was simple: “He likes to kill people,” he said.

After 45 minutes, Gatewood has finished and defense attorney Phillip Hayes is beginning his closing argument.

9:57 a.m.

Gatewood bringing up all the nurses and surgeons that dealt with the victims who all said every patient was fine before Davis dealt with him.

He then says the defense is built upon misdirection, lies, and red herrings.

9:48 a.m.

Gatewood brings back up security footage from night Joseph Kalina’s health crashed.

It is accompanied by William Davis’ interview who says he immediately responded, but video shows that he watched from the end of the hallway for several minutes. Davis was in Kalina’s room roughly 3 minutes prior to his health crashing.

9:36 a.m.

“William Davis killing these patients is the only thing that makes sense,” Gatewood says.

Gatewood said he was the only common denominator between patients. He also says that all the unexplained deaths stopped the day after Davis was suspended and none have happened in years since.

9:25 a.m.

Judge Jackson has finished reading the jury their instructions. ADA Chris Gatewood is now beginning the closing argument.

9:10 a.m

The jury has been brought in and Judge Jackson is begning to read the jury’s instructions.

8:45 a.m.

Judge Jackson has denied a motion to include potential charges of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for the jury to consider.

He is allowing first-degree murder to be considered. This carries sentence of 5-99 years rather than the death penalty or life without parole under capital murder.

8:35 a.m.

Judge Jackson has opened the courtroom. The room is packed with CHRISTUS lawyers, family members for Davis and the victims, as well as the general public.

Original Story

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – After three years of waiting for the trial and three and a half weeks for the case to be presented, closing arguments will be held Tuesday morning in the death penalty case of former CHRISTUS nurse William Davis.

He is accused of murdering four patients and injuring two others between 2017 and 2018 while working at the Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital in Tyler.

The case was beset for years with delays from the pandemic, changes in attorneys and other reasons. The case will be decided by a 12-person jury and could give the 37-year-old the death penalty if they convict him. The jury is comprised of five white men, one Hispanic man and six white women.

The case has been prosecuted by Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman who inherited the case after his contested election in 2018. It has been arguably the most high-profile trial East Texas has seen in at least a decade. Putman is facing reelection for his seat with the Republican primary just six months away.

Putman’s team of prosecutors called dozens of witnesses over nearly three weeks from victims’ family members, surgeons and nurses, that treated the four victims: Chris Greenway, Joseph Kalina, John Lafferty, and Ronald Clark.

Nearly all the prosecution’s witnesses agreed that while the men had come to the hospital for major heart surgery, all had been expected to recover.

Greenway for example had been talking with his wife and the medical team just hours after surgery and appeared to be on the road to recovery. His health suddenly deteriorated in the middle of the night after being left alone with Davis.

The nurse in charge of Greenway, Ben Rasberry, testified weeks ago that while he and Davis had significantly different philosophies with how they went about their work, he had trusted Davis.

Rasberry left Davis alone with Greenaway for just about 20 minutes while he went to pick up food from a nearby Whataburger. When he returned, Greenway had crashed and an eventual CT scan revealed massive brain damage caused by air in the top of the skull.

Rasberry said he couldn’t believe what had happened and felt he “let everyone down.”

The defense team took much less time to present its case, only calling a handful of witnesses over two days. One of their star witnesses was former CHRISTUS Emergency Room physician Dr. John Schnell.

Schnell testified on Monday that he contacted the defense team on his own because he did not believe that the injuries sustained by the patients matched with the claim that Davis had blown air into their arteria lines. Schnell shared an analogy to defend his belief.

“If you had a garden hose and the water was turned on and you had a straw in your mouth and went and tried to blow air into that garden house and get that air to travel the length of the hose to the end. The water coming out of it would just push those air bubbles out.”

He admitted however that he was not physically present when the victims’ health deteriorated.

Lead defense attorney Philly Hayes also questioned Schnell about other potential causes that could’ve caused complications. One was Serotonin Syndrome, which occurs when the chemical serotonin reaches dangerous levels in a person’s body. This can cause high blood pressure which leads to seizures and strokes.

Schnell said that the unique aspect of the cases, where the victims had extremely high blood pressure readings before their deaths. He testified that usually for patients coming out of surgery, they have the opposite problem.

Schnell testified that Serotonin Syndrome could have caused Chris Greenway’s death.

In the case of John Kalina, Schnell testified that Kalina was a heavy drinker and approximated that he consumed roughly 12 beers per day along with some hard liquor. He explained that Kalina may have been going through alcohol withdrawal syndrome at the time of his surgery, which would have made him more prone to complications.

Dr. Vipul Kipoor, who reviewed the medical records, noticed something unique about the patients.

“The pattern of strokes is very similar in all these six patients. The patterns matched a watershed stroke or a watershed infart,” he said.

The jury will receive the case likely by Tuesday afternoon and could take as little as a few minutes or up to several days to decide the case.

A guilty verdict would trigger a second phase of the trial, where they would need to decide whether to sentence Davis to death or life in prison without parole.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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