Who was Robert Diaz?
Robert Diaz was a registered nurse who worked at two hospitals in Riverside County, California, in the early 1980s. He was born in 1938 in Puerto Rico and moved to the United States as a child. He served in the Army and later became a nurse, specializing in cardiac care. He was married and had four children.
How did he kill his victims?
Robert Diaz killed at least 12 elderly patients by injecting them with lethal doses of lidocaine, a drug used to treat irregular heartbeats. He targeted patients who were terminally ill or had poor quality of life, and claimed that he was doing them a favor by ending their suffering. He also hoped to gain recognition and praise for his skills in resuscitating patients who suffered cardiac arrest. He used his knowledge of pharmacology and his access to drugs and syringes to carry out his crimes.
How was he caught and convicted?
Robert Diaz was caught after a hospital administrator noticed a spike in deaths in the cardiac care unit where Diaz worked. An investigation revealed that all the victims had high levels of lidocaine in their blood, and that Diaz was the only nurse who had attended to them. Diaz was arrested in May 1981 and charged with 12 counts of murder and one count of attempted murder. He pleaded not guilty and maintained his innocence throughout his trial. He claimed that he had followed the doctors’ orders and that the deaths were natural or accidental. However, the prosecution presented evidence from medical experts, witnesses, and Diaz’s own statements that proved his guilt. He was convicted by a judge in December 1982 and sentenced to death.
When and how did he die?
Robert Diaz died on August 11, 2010, at the age of 72, of natural causes. He had been on death row for 28 years, awaiting execution by lethal injection. He died at a hospital near San Quentin State Prison, where he had been transferred for medical treatment.
What was the impact of his crimes and death?
Robert Diaz’s crimes and death had a profound impact on the victims’ families, the medical community, and the public. His crimes shattered the trust and confidence that patients and their families had in the health care system. His crimes also exposed the lack of oversight and regulation of drugs and syringes in hospitals, and prompted reforms and improvements in security and safety measures. His death sparked a debate on the effectiveness and morality of the death penalty, and raised questions about the delays and costs of the appeals process.
Robert Diaz’s cause of death may have been natural, but his life was unnatural and evil. He was a nurse who betrayed his oath and his duty, and became a serial killer who preyed on the vulnerable and the helpless. He will be remembered as one of the most notorious and despicable murderers in California’s history.