Naturopath Sentenced For Injecting Teen With Hydrogen Peroxide
O'Connell To Spend 13 Years In Prison
March 27, 2006
GOLDEN, Colo. -- The so-called holistic doctor who pleaded guilty in the death of a patient was sentenced Monday to 13 years in prison after a judge told him he had shown no remorse over the death of a 19-year-old cancer victim he was treating.
Brian O'Connell admitted last month to criminally negligent homicide for injecting 19-year-old Sean Flanagan with hydrogen peroxide. Flanagan suffered from Ewing's Sarcoma, a form of cancer, and had tried chemotherapy and radiation treatment to no avail.
Flanagan's family sent him to O'Connell, who practices using natural remedies. However, the family said that Flanagan died prematurely in 2003 because of O'Connell's treatments.
In court on Monday, O'Connell asked Jefferson County District Judge Margie Enquist for leniency, saying he didn't know what he was doing was wrong. He said he had changed and regretted Flanagan's death.
Enquist told O'Connell she didn't believe him, and sentenced him to just two years less than the maximum.
"You stand here today without remorse, without regret, and denying what you pled guilty to, and you still call yourself a victim," she said.
Flanagan's parents, Laura and David Flanagan, said the sentence was fair.
O'Connell showed no emotion when Enquist announced the sentence, but his wife, seated in the front row of the gallery, wept.
Defense attorney Richard Jaffe said no appeal was likely, but he said people who would have sought care from O'Connell were also victims.
"There are victims on the other side too that can't get treatment now," he said.
Jaffe presented about a dozen witnesses during the sentencing hearing who said O'Connell helped them fight conditions that did not respond to traditional medicine.
In February, O'Connell also admitted guilt to theft, perjury, criminally negligent homicide, illegal practice of medicine and third-degree assault.
O'Connell was in charge of Mountain Area Naturopathic Associates in Wheat Ridge. In his office he displayed numerous degrees and certifications claiming he was doctor and a naturopath. The Colorado Medical Board found that he had no license to practice medicine in Colorado and was not certified as any kind of health care worker.
O'Connell was treating Flanagan with a procedure known as ultraviolet blood irradiation, where his blood was removed from the body, passed under an ultraviolet light and then returned to the body. When he didn't respond well to that, O'Connell then treated Flanagan by injecting his blood with hydrogen peroxide. The next day he died.
Prosecutors argued that Flanagan's cause of death was listed as probable complications from the hydrogen peroxide treatment.
O'Connell also injected this hydrogen peroxide solution into a 17-year-old girl, which caused her to go into cardiac arrest...