Trial begins of Ohio doctor accused of 14 counts of murder
Crime scene tape (Shutterstock.com)

Opening arguments began on Tuesday in the trial of a doctor in the midwestern US state of Ohio accused of 14 counts of murder for prescribing painkillers to critically ill patients.

William Husel, 46, is facing charges for deaths that occurred at Mount Carmel West hospital in Columbus between February 2015 and November 2018.

Husel, who has pleaded not guilty, was originally indicted for 25 counts of murder but 11 counts were dismissed by a judge in January at the request of prosecutors.

The patients who died were in the intensive care unit of the hospital and ranged in age from 37 years old to 82 years old.

"The state will show that his actions were not merely accidental or medical negligence," prosecutor Janet Grubb said in her opening statement. "They were in fact murder."

Grubb said the evidence to be presented at trial "will establish that William Husel's actions caused the deaths of these patients."

"Not all of these people were terminally ill on the date of their death," she said. "Some of those murdered could have left the hospital to go home or to hospice."

Husel, who was fired by the hospital in December 2018 and has had his medical license revoked, is accused of prescribing lethal doses of fentanyl and benzodiazepines.

The trial is expected to last about two months.