TYLER, Texas – A Texas nurse was convicted on Tuesday of capital murder in the deaths of four patients who died after prosecutors said he injected them with air following heart surgery.
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 due to start on Wednesday.
Davis, 37, has been charged with injecting air into the arteries of the four patients after undergoing heart surgery at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler in 2017 and 2018. While recovering, the four – John Lafferty, Ronald Clark, Christopher Greenway and Joseph Kalina – suffered from unexplained neurological problems and died.
During the trial, Dr William Yarbrough, a Dallas-area pulmonologist and professor of internal medicine, told the jury how injecting air into the arterial system of the brain causes brain damage and death.
Yarbrough said he was able to determine there was air in the arterial system of the victims’ brains by viewing images of brain scans – something he said he never had previously observed during his decades of medicine.
He ruled out blood pressure issues or any other cause of death besides the air injection, and said this must have happened after the surgeries because the complications arose while the patients were recovering.
Defense attorney Phillip Hayes told the jury the hospital was in trouble and Davis was a scapegoat who was only charged because he was there when the deaths occurred.
Prosecutor Chris Gatewood said in closing arguments Davis “liked to kill people.” And prosecutor Jacob Putman said the hospital hadn’t changed any of its procedures and hadn’t had any similar incidents since Davis left.