Apr 1, 2022 - News

Debate over RaDonda Vaught case hits DA race

RaDonda Vaught speaks to members of the press after a verdict was reached in her trial.
RaDonda Vaught speaks to members of the press after a verdict was reached in her trial. Photo: Nicole Hester/The Tennessean/USA Today Network

The RaDonda Vaught case has spurred debate in the primary race for district attorney.

  • Vaught, a former Vanderbilt University Medical Center nurse, was convicted last Friday in the 2017 death of patient Charlene Murphey, 75. Vaught gave Murphey the wrong medication.

Why it matters: The case attracted attention from health care workers worried it could lead to more criminal prosecutions for medical mistakes.

  • The Democratic candidates for DA have spoken out in the lead-up to the May 3 election.

Driving the news: Challenger Sara Beth Myers, a former federal prosecutor, seized on the conviction. She criticized District Attorney Glenn Funk for prosecuting, saying it was a medical malpractice issue that didn't belong in criminal court.

  • Myers called the case a "miscarriage of justice" and an example of Funk courting media attention in a TikTok video that has more than 130,000 views.
  • "Unfortunately, Ms. Vaught was a casualty of that insistence on making headlines instead of making real criminal justice reform," Myers said.
  • The Myers campaign tells Axios she received about $12,000 in donations since speaking about the case.

Meanwhile, P. Danielle Nellis, a former prosecutor who is also running for DA, said Wednesday she would not have prosecuted the Vaught case because it appeared to be a "classic medical malpractice issue."

  • Nellis questioned how Funk's office became involved and "why this particular nurse was singled out."

The other side: In a statement Thursday, Funk listed 18 moments in the case that he said "amounted to gross neglect," including the fact that Vaught overlooked the red cap on the wrong medication that read "WARNING: PARALYZING AGENT."

  • Funk said his office consulted "many expert witnesses, nurses, and medical professionals" who agreed the case should be prosecuted.
  • "My opponents have taken the side of the person convicted by a jury in this case," Funk said in the written statement. "As your District Attorney, I take the side of the victim Charlene Murphey and her family."

What they're saying: Funk also shared a family statement signed by Murphey's daughter-in-law Chandra Murphey in which she said criticism of the prosecution from "some political candidates" had traumatized the family "all over again."

  • "We thought we had closure," the statement read. "We may never get over the reaction to this verdict."
avatar

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Nashville.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more

More Nashville stories

No stories could be found

Nashvillepostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Nashville.

🌱

Support local journalism by becoming a member.

Learn more