COLUMBIA, Mo.-A former Veterans Affairs hospital nurse who was accused of killing 10 patients in 1992 walked free yesterday after prosecutors said the tests that led to the murder charges were flawed.
Richard Williams, who always maintained his innocence, was released after Boone County Prosecutor Kevin Crane asked that the charges be dismissed. Williams had been jailed since his arrest in July 2002.
Crane, who had planned to seek the death penalty, said he had to drop the charges because of problems with the test that found traces of muscle relaxant in the 10 patients.
"Adequate evidence to show these veterans did not die of natural causes is ... absent in this case," Crane said in a statement.
Williams' attorney, Don Catlett, said the murder charges had been based on "junk science" pursued because of political and public pressure in the high-profile case.
Williams, 37, had pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, which accused him of injecting the patients with the powerful drug succinylcholine, causing them to stop breathing. His trial was scheduled to begin in October.