Davis Trial

William George Davis listens to closing arguments Tuesday in the 114th District Court at the Smith County Courthouse. He was found guilty of capital murder on Tuesday and the punishment phase began Wednesday morning.

Following a former nurse’s capital murder conviction Tuesday in the deaths of four patients, Smith County District Attorney Jacob Putman said Wednesday the prosecution will prove William George Davis killed three other patients and attempted to murder five more.

Davis, 37, of Hallsville, a former nurse at Christus Trinity Mother Frances Louis and Peaches Owen Heart Hospital, was found guilty of injecting air into four patients’ arterial systems and causing their deaths. Those patients were John Lafferty, Ronald Clark, Christopher Greenaway and Joseph Kalina.

The punishment phase of the trial began Wednesday.

Putman told the jury Davis committed seven murders, including the four he was convicted of, and tried to kill five other patients. He told jurors they would hear from nurses, doctors, victims and families.

Krystal Frank, the widow of Perry Frank, one of three other patients who Putman said Davis killed, said her husband had heart surgery in 2017. He was recovering well until she got a 3 a.m. phone call from the hospital.

She testified that hospital staff tried to save her husband for an hour but couldn’t revive him.

“I was praying all the way, but I knew he was gone already,” she said.

The staff also asked her if she wanted to consent to an autopsy because they didn’t know what happened, to which she agreed. Perry Frank was an East Texas school band director, she testified.

Teresa Meeks, clinical director at cardiovascular ICU, returned to testify about unexplained outcomes around 2017 and 2018 for other patients than those discussed during the initial phase of the trial.

During her testimony, she addressed three patients who were injured: Gary Parker, James Wages and Rickie Glenn. Davis was charged with aggravated assault in connection with those injuries.

Meeks also testified about Perry Frank, James Sanders and James Blanks, cardiovascular ICU patients who died in 2017 while recovering from surgery.

Davis was the only nurse on duty during several of the patients’ complications, Meeks said.

She testified she found out about Sanders’ complications that led to his death on June 15, 2017.

She said there was nothing to indicate a possible problem.

Meeks recalled Sanders’ assigned nurse had to leave for some time, and later on, Davis was a substitute.

She noted records showed Sanders’ blood sugar level became low within a short period of time, and he died soon after. Meeks called Sanders’ death shocking.

Regarding Perry Frank’s complications and death, Meeks said she saw nothing during his recovery indicating likely complications.

After viewing security footage, Meeks noticed Davis was the last person to come out of Perry Frank’s room. That made her think back to seeing Davis coming out of Kalina’s room just before his brain-damaging complications in 2018.

Meeks testified the unexplained outcomes were starting to become far too common for the cardiovascular ICU to function. She said the events stopped after Davis was suspended from the hospital in 2018.

Kay Blanks, widow of James Blanks, testified her husband came to Mother Frances for heart surgery in January 2017, and he was recovering well.

“I was amazed. He was not on any kind of machine,” she said.

She recalled talking to him briefly and going home.

As he recovered, she laid down at night at home and noticed four calls from the hospital. When she called back, a nurse told her he died.

“I was shocked out of my mind,” Kay Blanks said. “I think I screamed, ‘What happened?’ He had been dead for 30 minutes, and I was just overwhelmed. It was awful.”

The doctor said the staff didn’t know what happened, and she agreed to an autopsy.

Kaitlyn McKenna, a former night shift nurse at Christus cardiovascular ICU, testified that before complications, James Blanks was recovering well post-surgery as he was talking and attempting to walk.

Also on Wednesday, a woman testified that when she was in middle school and Davis was a freshman in college, he coerced her into touching him inappropriately and tried to make her have sex.

The prosecution showed letters, which were of graphic nature, that Davis wrote at the time to the middle school-aged girl. She recalled interviewing with the police but didn’t tell the whole story until recently because she was afraid of getting in trouble.

She said she remembered being uncomfortable and super nervous when Davis would make her touch him, and she pushed off his advances.

She testified that she began getting phone calls from the Smith County Jail this year and determined it was Davis because of a voicemail. She blocked the jail phone number and later changed her number.

Smith County Jail Lt. Elsa Green testified an inmate with Davis’ ID number called the woman’s phone number several times while he was jailed this year. None of the 23 calls over a four-month period were answered.

Testimony will continue Thursday morning. Putman said he expects the prosecution to rest its case Monday or Tuesday.

 
 

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I came to the Tyler Morning Telegraph in September 2019. I report on crime, courts, breaking news and various events in Tyler and East Texas.