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Texas nurse faces capital murder trial for 4 patient deaths

September 28, 2021 GMT
FILE - This undated photo provided by the Smith County Jail shows William George Davis. A not-guilty plea Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, launched the capital murder trial of the former nurse accused of killing four patients at an East Texas hospital in 2017.   (Smith County Jail via AP)
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FILE - This undated photo provided by the Smith County Jail shows William George Davis. A not-guilty plea Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, launched the capital murder trial of the former nurse accused of killing four patients at an East Texas hospital in 2017. (Smith County Jail via AP)
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FILE - This undated photo provided by the Smith County Jail shows William George Davis. A not-guilty plea Tuesday, Sept. 28, 2021, launched the capital murder trial of the former nurse accused of killing four patients at an East Texas hospital in 2017. (Smith County Jail via AP)

TYLER, Texas (AP) — A defense attorney for a former nurse accused of killing four patients at an East Texas hospital in 2017 told jurors Tuesday that his client was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, while a prosecutor called him “a serial killer” who found the perfect place to hide.

William George Davis, 37, of Hallsville, is accused of injecting air into the arteries of four patients recovering from heart surgery at the Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler, killing John Lafferty, Ronald Clark, Christopher Greenway and Joseph Kalina. His capital murder trial in Tyler began Tuesday with a not-guilty plea.

“No one expects this is going to happen to them — certainly not in a hospital,” Smith County District Jacob Putnam told jurors during opening statements. “We’re going to ask you to find him guilty of capital murder because that’s what he did.”

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Putnam noted that each of the four patients was in stable condition after their surgery until they all suffered stroke-like symptoms, with CT scans showed abnormal arterial spaces in their brains. Davis was the only nurse on duty at the time, he said.

“It turns out a hospital is the perfect place for a serial killer to hide,” Putnam said.

Defense attorney Phillip Hayes portrayed Davis as an innocent victim of circumstance. Hayes also asserted that strokes were not uncommon occurrences in intensive-care units, where all four patients were receiving care.

Testimony is to resume Wednesday morning, with the trial expected to take four to six weeks to complete, Putnam said.