Robert Diaz: The Nurse Who Killed With Lidocaine

Who was Robert Diaz?

Robert Diaz was a registered nurse who was convicted of killing 12 elderly patients by injecting them with lethal doses of lidocaine, a heart drug, in 1981.

Robert Diaz was born in 1938 in Puerto Rico and moved to New York City as a child. He served in the U.S. Army as a medic and later became a nurse.

However, he also had a dark side. He was married four times and had several affairs. He was accused of stealing drugs and money from his employers and patients.

What was the cause of Robert Diaz’s death?

Diaz’s death came as a surprise to many, as he had been appealing his conviction and sentence for decades. He had always maintained his innocence and claimed that he was a scapegoat for the hospital’s negligence and malpractice.

Diaz’s death also sparked a debate about the effectiveness and morality of the death penalty in California, where more than 700 inmates are awaiting execution.

How did Robert Diaz kill his patients?

Robert Diaz killed his patients by injecting them with massive amounts of lidocaine, a drug that is used to treat irregular heartbeats and to numb pain. Lidocaine works by blocking the electrical signals that control the heart’s rhythm. In small doses, it can calm the heart and prevent cardiac arrest.

Diaz targeted elderly patients who were already terminally ill or in critical condition. He worked at two hospitals in Riverside County, California: Community Hospital of the Valley in Perris and San Gorgonio Memorial Hospital in Banning. He usually worked the night shift, when there was less supervision and fewer witnesses.

Diaz’s killing spree lasted from January to April 1981, when he killed 12 patients, ranging in age from 52 to 95. He was arrested in May 1981, after an investigation by the police and the coroner’s office revealed that the victims had unusually high levels of lidocaine in their blood and tissues.

Why did Robert Diaz kill his patients?

The motive behind Robert Diaz’s killings remains unclear. He never confessed to his crimes or explained his reasons. Some speculated that he was a mercy killer, who wanted to end the suffering of his patients. Others suggested that he was a thrill killer, who enjoyed the power and control over life and death.

However, none of these theories were proven or supported by any evidence. Diaz’s defense attorney argued that he was innocent and that the deaths were caused by medical errors, drug interactions, or natural causes. He also challenged the validity and reliability of the forensic tests and the witnesses.

The prosecution, on the other hand, presented a strong case against Diaz, based on the physical, circumstantial, and testimonial evidence. They showed that Diaz had access, opportunity, and means to kill his patients. They also showed that Diaz had a history of dishonesty, violence, and drug abuse.

What was the impact of Robert Diaz’s killings?

Robert Diaz’s killings had a profound impact on the victims’ families, the medical community, and the public. The families of the victims were devastated and outraged by the betrayal and the loss of their loved ones. They sought justice and closure, but were frustrated by the long and complex legal process.

The medical community was shocked and alarmed by the killings, which exposed the vulnerability and the responsibility of the health care system. The hospitals where Diaz worked were sued and fined for negligence and malpractice. The nurses and the doctors who worked with Diaz were scrutinized and questioned for their role and their knowledge of the killings.

The public was fascinated and horrified by the killings, which received extensive media coverage and attention. The case raised many questions and issues about the ethics and the legality of euthanasia, the quality and the safety of health care, and the morality and the effectiveness of the death penalty.