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Popular Doctor Charged With 2nd-Degree Murder

Tragedy: Physician in Port Angeles, Wash., acknowledges using hands to block breathing of 3-day-old boy who had been declared brain dead.

September 01, 1998| From Associated Press

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — A doctor who acknowledged using his hands to block an infant's breathing after the boy was declared brain dead was charged with second-degree murder Monday.

Dr. Eugene Turner was summoned to appear at a Sept. 25 court hearing in the Jan. 12 death of 3-day-old Conor McInnerney, who was rushed to Olympic Memorial Hospital after he stopped breathing.

The charge was based on evidence gathered by police, state medical investigators and consultations with medical experts, prosecutor David Bruneau said. He declined further comment.

Turner's lawyer at the time said that Turner did everything he could to save the baby over a four-hour period, and that the child could not possibly have survived. The lawyer sent a state medical commission a letter in February saying the doctor admits placing his hand over the boy's face and holding his nose, ending his life.

The state Medical Quality Assurance Commission accused Turner of unprofessional conduct in using his hand to stop the baby's erratic breathing.

Turner was not available for comment and his current lawyer did not return phone messages.

Turner's wife, Norma, called the charge "a shocking turn of events." She said her husband was "a compassionate and caring person" who would respond in a few days.

Turner is a highly respected doctor who has practiced in Port Angeles for nearly 30 years.

Though he surrendered his privileges at Olympic Memorial after the baby's death, more than 350 people signed a petition asking the hospital board to encourage him to return. Turner has continued to treat patients in his private practice in Port Angeles, a town of about 18,000 on the Olympic Peninsula.

The parents of the boy, Martin and Michelle McInnerney, have threatened to sue the hospital. A state Health Department investigation in March cleared the hospital of wrongdoing.

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