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Witness describes husband’s death in day 1 of former nurse’s trial

William Davis trial begins
William Davis trial begins((Source: KLTV))
Published: Sep. 28, 2021 at 10:16 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 10:11 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - After being pushed back multiple times, the trial of a former East Texas nurse accused of killing his patients got underway Tuesday.

“It turns out a hospital is the perfect place for a serial killer to hide,” said Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman.

The prosecution in the trial of William Davis began opening arguments Tuesday morning, beginning the task of convincing the jury that Davis killed multiple patients while he worked as a nurse at CHRISTUS’ Louis and Peaches Heart Owen Hospital in Tyler.

“In 2017 to 2018, he went in several patients’ rooms without anybody looking, without anybody knowing it, and he injected air into their arterial lines to kill them,” Putman said.

The prosecution showed the jury some of the patients they say underwent successful surgeries only to later take a turn for the worst. Chris Greenaway’s widow, Donna Thedford, taking the stand, saying her husband looked to be in good shape after open-heart surgery.

“He said that he felt great, he was hurting, but that was normal. Anyways, we kissed, “love you, love you I’ll see you tomorrow morning because the next morning they said they were gonna get him up by five,” Thedford said.

She said she went home for the night and got a call early the next morning saying her husband’s condition had deteriorated. Wiping away tears, Thedford recalled gathering friends and family members to say goodbye.

Chris Greenaway died August 6, 2017. The prosecution said doctors found an alarming amount of air had been pumped into his arterial lines.

The defense acknowledged four people had died all under similar circumstances.

“The problem with being in CVICU, which is cardiovascular ICU unit, is that they were very sick to get there. You don’t go have heart surgery when you’re top notch healthy. These people had illness, these people had sickness, and these people had issues and you will find out that it’s not uncommon for people to have strokes and other problems after heart surgery,” said defense attorney Phillip Hayes.

William Davis watched and listened as CHRISTUS Anesthesiologist Dr. Norman Sulser demonstrated for the jury proper protocols to care for patients. Sulser said he never suspected one of their own could be capable of intentionally hurting a patient. The defense questioned whether Davis played a role.

“I don’t even know if there’s evidence to prove these people were intentionally harmed. We’ll have to figure that out,” Hayes said.

The trial will continue Wednesday morning at 8 a.m.

The trial for a former East Texas nurse accused of killing patients began in Tyler Tuesday.

William Davis, 37, of Hallsville, is accused of injecting air into the arterial lines of patients at a Tyler heart hospital, killing at least two people and injuring several others. Davis was arrested in April 2018. At the time, he was a registered nurse at CHRISTUS Mother Frances Hospital in Tyler.

William George Davis (Source: Smith County judicial records)
William George Davis (Source: Smith County judicial records)

Davis pleaded not guilty as the trial got underway. The prosecutor, Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman began opening arguments.

“A hospital is the perfect place for a serial killer to hide,” Putman said during his arguments.

Putman laid out evidence surrounding the death of one of the people who died. Christopher Greenaway, 47, had undergone a successful surgery, but went from being healthy to crashing levels. Greenaway developed clots in the brain, blocking his blood flow and exhibited stroke-like symptoms. He went from being fine to being unconscious.

Greenaway would receive a CT scan and his arterial space was found to have “a lot” of air in it. Doctors were trying to figure out what happened, but didn’t want to suspect someone did it on purpose. Greenaway died in August of 2017.

Putman said another suspected victim, 58-year-old Joseph Kalina, had a similar story. Kalina was doing fine but then took a turn for the worst. He would also eventually die of injuries sustained at the hospital.

Putman said at the time, newly installed security cameras showed William Davis enter Kalina’s room. Davis watched from down the hall as nurses sprinted down the hall to help Kalina.

Lead defense attorney Phillip Hayes testified.

“The thing about strokes is they’re not uncommon in a hospital setting,” Hayes said acknowledging the deaths of the individuals.

Hayes also said the trial will show that Davis did not kill the patients.

The first witness was then called, a woman who is a record worker at CHRISTUS.

The second witness, Robert Campbell, works in the Cardiology IT department at CHRISTUS. He discussed what his job is and how hospital records system works. Like the first witness, he was not on the stand long.

The third witness, Elizabeth Melon is the Director of Human Resources at CHRISTUS.

The fourth witness, Donna Thedford, is the widow of Chris Greenaway.

Donna said Chris was a pilot who had served in the war in Iraq. She said he told her he was scared ahead of bypass surgery. She said after the surgery, Chris looked fantastic and was doing great.

Donna said she was not allowed to spend the night at the hospital. She said her phone rang around 4 a.m. saying she needed to get there ASAP. She said Chris looked “100% different” when she saw him that morning. By that night, he was essentially brain dead.

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