Year in review: RaDonda Vaught's highly controversial case captured national attention

RaDonda Vaught
Posted at 3:00 PM, Dec 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-28 14:55:03-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — It was a highly controversial case that garnered national attention: A nurse charged with homicide for a mistake in treating a patient.

Vanderbilt nurse RaDonda Vaught killed a patient by accidentally giving the wrong medicine. Her trial is one of the top stories of the past year.

At trial, the jury had to decide if Vaught's mistake was criminal. From the very beginning, Vaught admitted she made a horrible mistake.

"I have replayed my mistakes over and over and over again. I'm just very sorry. I'm very sorry for what happened," said Vaught.

In 2017 Vaught, then a Vanderbilt nurse accidentally gave the wrong medicine to a patient Charlene Murphey who died.

Assistant District Attorney Chad Jackson listed seventeen mistakes made by Vaught in the care of the patient and decided what happened was criminal.

"This case wasn't about simple professional negligence. It was about gross neglect of a patient," Jackson said.

The controversial decision was made to charge Vaught with reckless homicide.

If convicted, Vaught would face up to ten years in prison.

Her defense attorney Peter Strianse conceded Vaught made a horrible mistake, but it wasn't criminal and that Vanderbilt should share much of the blame.

"I believe there were systemic issues at Vanderbilt Medical Center that contributed to what happened here," he added.

In contrast, prosecutors argued it was all the actions of Vaught.

"Vanderbilt did not put that medication in her hand or make her override the system," said Jackson.

Many others and Vaught herself disagreed saying the prosecution showed a lack of understanding of the pressures and stress felt by nurses and others in the health care industry.

"It's very obvious they don't know s--- about health care. They don't give a f--- about nurses. I don't care what Chad Jackson says," said Vaught.

After a three-day trial and four hours of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict on a lesser charge.

"We the jury find the defendant RaDonda Vaught guilty of gross neglect of an impaired adult."

The felony conviction could have brought prison time, but Charlene Murphey's son Michael said, "Knowing my mom the way mom was she wouldn't want to see her pull no jail time. That was just mom. she was a very forgiving person."

The judge then sentenced Vaught to three years of supervised probation.

Many expressed concern that this criminal prosecution for a mistake on the job would have a chilling effect on the nursing profession.

Prosecutors discount that saying this case was an outlier because of the extreme circumstances.

Get NewsChannel 5 Now, wherever, whenever, always free.

Watch the live stream below, and download our apps on Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and more. Click here to learn more.