A defense attorney who some have called “the Johnnie Cochran of the 21st century” has been retained to defend William S. Husel, the former Mount Carmel Health System doctor accused of ordering fatal overdoses for 25 patients.
Jose Baez, 50, who has offices in Orlando and Miami, Fla., this week filed a motion in Franklin County Common Pleas Court to join the defense team for Husel.
Richard H. Blake, a Cleveland area attorney, has been the chief attorney for Husel. Diane M. Menashe, who last year represented Brian L. Golsby, the man convicted of raping and murdering Reagan Tokes on Feb. 8, 2017, is also representing Husel.
A trial was tentatively set for April 27 in the Franklin County courtroom of Judge Michael Holbrook. The trial is expected to last eight weeks.
In December, Husel was fired after a Mount Carmel investigation determined that he ordered excessive and potentially fatal doses of painkillers for 35 patients over about four years at the former Mount Carmel West hospital in Franklinton and Mount Carmel St. Ann’s hospital in Westerville.
That launched an extensive criminal investigation that led in June to the 25-count murder indictment of Husel. He pleaded not guilty to the charges as his attorney said that he was providing end-of-life comfort to his patients. Husel is out on $1 million bond.
Baez became nationally known for his defense of Casey Anthony, a young woman who was charged with murder in the 2008 death of her daughter, Caylee, in the Orlando area.
An Orange County, Fla., jury acquitted Anthony of murder charges in July 2011, though they did find that she made false statements to law enforcement.
Baez was also retained by Aaron Hernandez, the troubled former New England Patriots tight end, in the Massachusetts case where he was accused of killing two men in South Boston in July 2012.
Hernandez was already serving a life prison term for the June 2013 slaying of Odin Lloyd after a Massachusetts jury convicted him in that case in 2015.
Baez defended Hernandez during the 2017 trial, which ended in acquittal. But days after the trial on April 19, 2017, Hernandez committed suicide in his cell at Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Mass.
Recently, Baez was briefly retained by Harvey Weinstein, the disgraced movie studio executive who is facing a rape trial in New York City.
CNN.com and an August 2017 profile of Baez in Esquire Magazine dubbed him as a Johnnie Cochran for today. The late Cochran was part of the team whose defense of O.J. Simpson led to his acquittal on two murder charges in October 1995. In the Esquire story, Baez said that he admired Cochran’s style because of the way he bonded with the jury in the Simpson case.