Jury selection for former CHRISTUS nurse accused of murdering 4 patients to begin at end of July

William Davis Murder Trial

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Jury selection for the high-profile trial of a former CHRISTUS nurse accused of murdering four patients and severely injuring others will begin the last week of July, the judge announced Monday morning.

William Davis, 37, was arrested back in 2018 after an investigation at CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital. He had been fired for “falsification of care events and his unethical practice related to failure to disclose interventions provided.”

A later investigation by hospital staff and police revealed that it was likely a crime had occurred with the injury and death of several patients that were considered “statistical anomalies.”

The 15-minute hearing on Monday focused on mostly agreeing to the jury selection process and setting a date for a hearing on the last motions from both sets of attorneys.

114th District Court Judge Austin Jackson said that 2,400 jury summons had been sent out last week by the county, a much higher number than normal due to it being a capital murder trial and the high-profile nature of the case.

Jury selection will begin Monday, July 26, and run through that Wednesday. The two sides agreed that they would call two groups of roughly 200-300 potential jurors a day, one panel in the morning and one in the afternoon.

From there, prosecutors and defense attorneys will need to select 12 jurors and two alternates from more than 2,000 people.

Davis was originally indicted for the death of three patients but was charged for a fourth murder back in May. It is unclear from those court documents when the fourth victim died. Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman says the state is seeking the death penalty for Davis.

An arrest warrant obtained by KETK News at the time of his arrest alleges that Davis intentionally introduced air into the patients’ arterial lines. 

The affidavit says that security footage showed Davis entering the patients’ rooms and leaving. Almost immediately after, they would suffer a “profound incident” despite being considered stable.

All victims were identified as patients who underwent cardiovascular surgery and were recovering in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) at Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital.

In April, Davis filed a motion to suppress interviews that he had with police officers. They claim that he had already asked for an attorney and that any interrogation of him should have been stopped.

Tyler police contacted Davis on Feb. 15, 2018, to set up an interview with him about a string of incidents at the hospital. The next day, Davis told detectives that he was being represented by Jason Cassel when they called him.

The motion states that investigators “disregarded Mr. Davis’ invocation of counsel and continued his interrogation and took a statement. This statement should be suppressed.”

In all, his lawyers asked 114th District Court Judge Austin Jackson to suppress three statements from being presented to a jury when the trial is held later this year.

The motion also contends on an interview he had on April 30 when police confirmed that Davis was no longer represented by Cassel. Officers read him his Miranda rights and took “a lengthy statement” after receiving clearance from then-Smith County District Attorney Matt Bingham.

The hearing on that motion will be held on July 12 along with any remaining issues the two sides have before they start to assemble a jury.

Justin Roberts, a partner at the East Texas Roberts & Roberts law firm, said this case delves into one of the most litigious and gray areas of the law.

I think there’s going to be a debate over two things… If this defendant didn’t have a lawyer anymore, could he really still invoke his right to counsel for a counsel he doesn’t have? And number two, they’re going to say that maybe [Davis] re-initiated contact.

JUSTIN ROBERTS, PARTNER OF ROBERTS & ROBERTS LAW FIRM

The case has sat largely inactive for the last two years due to a number of different delays. DNA testing, a change in lawyers, and the COVID-19 pandemic have slowed the case down since Davis’ arrest nearly three years ago.

It would be the first capital murder trial in East Texas since Dameon Mosely was convicted back in November 2019 of murdering a gas station attendant during a robbery. After a one-week trial, he was sentenced to death after the jury deliberated for 45 minutes.

At a hearing back in March, Jackson publicly revealed that his mother is employed by CHRISTUS, but did not say in what capacity. Both prosecutors and defense lawyers agreed that it would not be a problem for the trial.

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