MURDER 2: Charges Dropped Against Popular Pediatrician
Washington state prosecutors yesterday withdrew a second-degree murder charge against a "respected pediatrician accused of murder for placing his hand over the nose and mouth of a 3-day-old baby he could not revive." The move came just as the trial of Dr. Eugene Turner was slated to begin, with Snohomish County Prosecutor Jim Krider concluding that "there was not enough evidence to prove a crime had been committed" (McGrady, Reuters/Washington Post, 2/2). Turner was accused of blocking the airway of Conor McInnerney on Jan. 12 of last year after the infant stopped breathing and was rushed to Olympic Memorial Hospital. After four hours of failed resuscitation efforts, witnesses claim to have seen the infant draw breath, only to be smothered by Turner. But Turner "said the breathing he stopped was reflexive 'agonal breathing' -- a sign of imminent death" -- and noted the baby had already been declared brain dead. Several members of the hospital staff and the McInnerneys disagreed (AP/Los Angeles Times, 2/2). Prosecutors decided yesterday that they lacked sufficient evidence to pursue the case, and Superior Court Judge Michael Rickert agreed with their decision, noting that "there are 'other avenues and other places'" to pursue the issue. The Reuters/Washington Post reports that Turner will face a review by the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission, and the McInnerney family vowed to file a negligence lawsuit against the doctor (2/2).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.