A1 A1
Crime
centerpiece
Defense begins witness testimony in trial of former East Texas nurse accused of killing patients
  • Updated

Defense attorneys for the former East Texas nurse accused of killing four patients brought back two of the prosecution’s witnesses Wednesday morning as they began presenting their evidence.

William George Davis, 37, of Hallsville, is accused of injecting air into patients’ arterial systems while he was a nurse at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital in Tyler, causing their deaths, according to 2018 and 2021 indictments.

Davis is accused of killing John Lafferty, Ronald Clark, Christopher Greenaway and Joseph Kalina. His trial began Sept. 28.

Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman announced to the jury that the state rests its case.

Davis’ attorney Phillips Hayes brought Dr. Jennifer Shupe, a neurologist at Christus Trinity Mother Frances NorthPark Medical Plaza — Tyler, and Teresa Meeks, clinical director for the Christus TMF cardiovascular ICU, back to the stand.

Due to other witnesses’ availability, testimony won’t resume until Monday morning. The jury will likely begin deliberations next week, 114th District Judge Austin Reeve Jackson said.

Jackson also informed Davis he has a right to choose whether or not he wants to testify in front of the jury.

Shupe testified a stroke can be caused by a significant period of hypotension (low blood pressure). She said that period of time can be five minutes if the patient has extremely low blood pressure.

Shupe also testified that having significantly low blood pressure was not the case for Greenaway, who on Aug. 4, 2017, had a stroke-like event while having a routine recovery at the cardiovascular ICU.

Greenaway’s brain scan later showed air in his brain that caused significant damage and ultimately his death.

The prosecution then gave the example of Pamela Henderson, a patient who was neurologically intact and using her iPad after surgery in November 2017. She had a neurological event due to air inside the arterial system of her brain.

Davis is charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon in connection with Henderson’s injuries.

Shupe testified the patient in that situation would have been in a profound hypotensive state within such a short period for that to be the cause of a neurological event. The issue would not have been related to anything that happened in surgery. She added strokes are not an uncommon medical issue.

Meeks testified air getting into the arterial line is difficult because of the equipment’s setup. She noted Dr. William Turner, a heart surgeon for some of the deceased patients, had high expectations for patients’ health care.

She told the defense that as she began to look into what happened to Kalina the initial documentation did not show air being pushed into the arterial line.

Kalina had a neurological event on Jan. 25, 2018, while recovering from surgery. Scans later showed air in the arterial system of his brain caused significant damage. He died two years later.

Security footage showed Davis, who was not the nurse assigned to the room, was the last person in Kalina’s room before he experienced complications.

Meeks noted the waveforms that track the arterial system for patients typically disappear after 72 hours. At the time, she reviewed heartbeat rhythms, blood pressures and mean arterial pressures for Kalina.

She said there was a large discussion about what happened to the patients. The nurse who was assigned to take care of Kalina was deeply distraught and angry the morning after Kalina’s complications, Meeks testified.

Meeks said no equipment was reported broken to her for the arterial line device.

She testified when an alarm goes off at the hospital, the primary nurse would typically respond unless that nurse was not available. Then, other nurses check on the patient.

Meeks said a nurse intentionally injecting air into the arterial line never crossed her mind. She also said the investigation into what happened to the patients who died destroyed her relationship with the staff.


From cars to gasoline, surging prices match a 13-year high
  • Updated

WASHINGTON — Another jump in consumer prices in September sent inflation up 5.4% from where it was a year ago, matching the largest increase since 2008 as tangled global supply lines continue to create havoc.

U.S. consumer prices rose 0.4% in September from August as the costs of new cars, food, gas, and restaurant meals all jumped.

The annual increase in the consumer price index matched readings in June and July as the highest in 13 years, the Labor Department said Wednesday. Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core inflation rose 0.2% in September and 4% compared with a year ago. Core prices hit a three-decade high of 4.5% in June.

The ongoing price gains raise pressure on the Federal Reserve, whose officials have repeatedly said the increases will be transitory, and on President Joe Biden, who is facing an economy of slowing job gains and higher inflation. Biden has been accused by Republicans for spurring inflation with his $1.9 trillion rescue package enacted in March of this year.

The unexpected burst of inflation this year reflects sharply higher prices for food and energy, but also for furniture, cars, televisions, and other largely imported goods. COVID-19 has shut down factories in Asia and slowed U.S. port operations, leaving container ships anchored at sea and consumers and businesses paying more for goods that may not arrive for months.

“Price increases stemming from ongoing supply chain bottlenecks amid strong demand will keep the rate of inflation elevated, as supply (and) demand imbalances are only gradually resolved,” said Kathy Bostjancic, an economist at Oxford Economics, a consulting firm. “While we share the Fed’s view that this isn’t the start of an upward wage-price spiral, we look for inflation to remain persistently above 3% through mid-2022.”

The latest inflationary data makes it even more likely that the Fed will soon begin reducing its $120 billion a month in bond purchases, which are intended to keep longer-term interest rates low. Most analysts expect the Fed to announce such a move at its next meeting Nov. 3.

Higher prices are also outstripping the pay gains many workers are able to obtain from businesses, which are having to pay more to attract employees. Average hourly wages rose 4.6% in September from a year earlier, a healthy increase, but not enough to keep up with inflation.

For elderly Americans, however, the increase has resulted in the biggest increase in benefits in 39 years. Monthly Social Security checks will rise 5.9% next year, the government said Wednesday. So will other benefits for veterans and retirees.

One good sign in September was that prices fell or moderated in categories that had been initially pushed much higher by the pandemic. Those declines kept core price increases from worsening.

Used car prices declined 0.7% last month, the second straight drop, after costs soared over the summer as consumers, unable to find or afford a new car, turned to used instead.

The costs for hotel rooms, car rentals, and airline tickets also all fell last month, as the delta spike in COVID-19 cases limited travel plans. Car rental prices had shot up over the summer after many companies sold portions of their rental fleets. Clothing prices fell 1.1% in September, providing consumers some relief after increases earlier this year.

New cars, however, are growing increasingly expensive with costs rising 1.3% in September, and 8.7% compared with a year ago. That is the biggest 12-month increase in new car prices since 1980. A shortage of semiconductors has restrained vehicle production and left fewer cars on dealer lots.

Prices for household furniture, which has faced major shipping delays, jumped 2.4% in September alone, the biggest increase since 1988. Over the past 12 months, furniture costs have soared 11.2%, the most since 1951.

The cost of shoes rose 0.5% in September and have jumped 6.5% in the past year. Children’s shoes are up 11.9%, a record-high gain in data that stretches back to the 1950s. Most shoes are imported and are likely caught in supply bottlenecks.

Restaurant owners are paying higher salaries to lure workers who have become elusive in the pandemic and they’re paying more for food. And for the fifth consecutive month, that has led to outsized price gains, 0.5%, in September. The cost of a meal at a full-service restaurant has jumped 5.2% in the past year, an unprecedented leap for as long as records have been kept.

Gas prices jumped 1.2% last month and have soared more than 42% compared with a year ago. Electricity prices rose 0.8% in September from August.

Housing costs also rose at a strong clip, as builders say they cannot find all the parts and workers they need to build new homes as quickly as they’d like. Rents rose 0.5% in September and a measure of home prices climbed 0.4%. If sustained, those increases will put significant upward pressure on prices, as those two measures account for nearly one-third of the CPI.

Inflation is far above the Fed’s target of 2% annually. Chair Jerome Powell has repeatedly said that the price gains should “abate” next year, bringing inflation closer to the target.

Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida echoed that view in remarks Tuesday.

“The unwelcome surge in inflation this year, once these relative price adjustments are complete and bottlenecks have unclogged, will in the end prove to be largely transitory,” he said.

Raphael Bostic, president of the Atlanta Federal Reserve, joked Tuesday in separate remarks that “transitory” is now seen as the equivalent of a curse word at the Atlanta Fed. Bostic said that the price spikes mostly reflect the pandemic’s impact on supply chains and added they should eventually fade, but it will likely take longer than many Fed officials initially expected.

The White House said Wednesday that it has helped foster an agreement to keep the Port of Los Angeles open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in an effort to ease supply bottlenecks and reduce price pressures.

Ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California, account for 40% of all shipping containers entering the U.S. As of Monday, there were 62 ships berthed at the two ports and 81 waiting to dock and unload, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California.

___

AP Writer Josh Boak contributed to this story.

___

This story has been updated to correct that rents rose 0.5% in September, not 0.4%.


In this July 21 photo, a consumer shops at a retail store in Morton Grove, Ill. Consumer prices rose 0.4% last month, slightly higher than August’s gain and pushing annual inflation back to the highest increase in 13 years. The consumer price index rose 5.4% in September from a year ago, up slightly from August’s gain of 5.3% and matching the increases in June and July.


Local
top story
Tyler City Council approves advanced traffic management system at cost of $1.8 million
  • Updated

The Tyler City Council on Wednesday approved the purchase of an advanced traffic management system and associated equipment at a cost of $1,887,220.

The purchase of new equipment from Paradigm Traffic totals $1,847,220, while the remaining $44,000 will go toward contingency funds, according to the city.

The system includes software, traffic signal communications, traffic signal controllers and vehicle detection. The system is made up of a server-based system that will be controlled by city staff and a cloud-based software that can be controlled by city staff with access from any internet connection.

Provided through the software is database management of traffic signal timing, reporting and alert capabilities of the traffic signal system and signal performance measures, according to the city.

The city plans to purchase 131 cellular communication devices for traffic signal communication. Of those, 127 would be installed throughout the community and the remaining four kept for later if needed, according to the city.

All but 23 city intersections would be covered. Of those intersections, 14 will be included in highway safety improvement program projects, which is an agreement the city has with the Texas Department of Transportation. And upgrades to the other nine intersections in downtown are postponed due to future projects that could affect traffic flow in the area.

The new traffic management system allows for the future expansion into city of Tyler vehicles and the ability for emergency responders to control traffic signals in emergencies, according to the city.

The purchase and installation of 84 new traffic signal controllers will replace controllers that have reached their lifespan, will help standardize equipment and ensure intersections can communicate with the new management system software, according to the city.

This project is funded through the city’s half-cent sales tax fund and budgeted in the current half-cent sales tax 10-year program.

The new traffic management system and related equipment are planned to be installed and operational by February.


Bible verse 10.14.21

“’For I know the plans I have for you,’” declares the Lord, “‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” (Jeremiah 29:11)


Back