Jury to begin deliberations Friday morning in trial of former Vanderbilt nurse

WSMV nurse trial
WSMV nurse trial
Published: Mar. 24, 2022 at 1:21 PM CDT|Updated: Mar. 24, 2022 at 4:07 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - The fate of former Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught is now in the jury’s hands.

The state rested its case in Vaught’s homicide trial on Thursday. She is accused of giving a 74-year-old patient a fatal dose of the wrong medication back in December 2017.

The prosecution and defense finished presenting witnesses on the third day of the trial of RaDonda Vaught in Davidson County Criminal Court.

Vaught is accused of negligent homicide for administering the wrong drug to 75-year-old Charlene Murphey on Dec. 26, 2017.

Vaught was emotional and crying during the closing argument. Vaught’s defense told the jury that we are all human and make mistakes, but the state insisted this mistake was reckless and ultimately took Murphey’s life.

Vaught waived her right to testify in her defense.

Vaught is accused of giving Murphey the drug Vecuronium, a paralyzing agent, instead of Versed, which is a sedative. Another employee found Murphey unresponsive just minutes after receiving the treatment. She was put on life support until her family removed it the next day.

“You have heard from multiple witnesses,” one prosecutor said. “You have to remain with the patients and monitor them. It is so important. You don’t know if they are going to have an adverse reaction.”

The key question of the trial was brought front-and-center on Thursday: When does a mistake become criminal?

The prosecution’s final witness was Donna Jones, a former nurse of 47 years and legal nursing consultant.

Jones broke down how Vaught failed at the most basic procedures for administering medicine to a patient.

The judge denied the defense’s motion to acquit of her homicide after the prosecution rested. The judge stated she had seen and heard enough from the prosecution to allow the trial to continue.

A group of nurses were in the courtroom to support Vaught, even though they don’t know her personally.

Some of the traveled from other parts of the country. They feel strongly that this trial will have a huge ripple effect.

“It’s absolutely going to be detrimental to the nursing community regardless of the outcome of this trial because it’s setting a precedent,” Nurse Erica said. “Now that nurses know they can be criminally prosecuted, why would you go into nursing and why would you stay in nursing? It’s going to be really bad for the profession as a whole.”

To give context for how much interest there is in the trial from the nursing community, Nurse Erica has been documenting the trial on TikTok for her more than 300,000 followers all week. A video she posted around noon Thursday had nearly 50,000 views four hours later.

The gallery was full of many people who don’t know Vaught personally, like nurses from out of town who said they are in support of Vaught and said it could have happened to any of them.

“She made mistakes, and she owns that,” one nurse said. “I don’t think there’s any nurses that I think didn’t do anything wrong, but I think the bigger issue is the system that set her up for failure.”

The state said that this was in no way an indictment of the nursing community as a whole. The jury returns Friday morning to deliberate.

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