On September, 1999, Dr. Weitzel was arrested in Bay City, Texas, about 75 miles southwest of Houston. The Salt City doctor was accused of killing five elderly patients by prescribing lethal doses of morphine and other drugs between December 30, 1995, and January 14, 1996. All five died under his care when he was director of a geriatric-psychiatric unit run by Houston-based Horizons Mental Health Management Inc. at the Davis Hospital and Medical Center in Layton.
The first-degree felony murder charges allege that Weitzel killed 91-year-old Ellen B. Anderson of Brigham City, 93-year-old Judith V. Larsen of Salt Lake City, 72-year-old Mary R. Crane of Salt Lake City, 90-year-old Lydia M. Smith of Centerville and 83-year-old Ennis Alldredge of Oak City. Each charge carries a sentence of five years to life. The bodies of Larsen, Crane and Alldredge were exhumed earlier this summer and autopsies performed by the state medical examiner. Weitzel has also been charged with 22 counts of fraudulently obtaining prescription pain killers. A federal indictment alleges that Dr. Robert Allan Weitzel wrote numerous prescriptions for morphine and Demerol to a handful of people but kept the drugs.
On July, 2000, Dr. Weitzel, who was charged with five counts of first-degree murder, was convicted last July of two counts of manslaughter and three counts of negligent homicide and was sentenced to 15 years in prison. On January 10, 2001, after appealing his case, the Salt Lake City psychiatrist was granted a new trial. Second District Judge Thomas L. Kay ruled that prosecutors should have disclosed pre-trial statements from a pain-management expert that could have aided the case of Dr. Robert Allen Weitzel. Kay ruled that prosecutors had a legal and ethical duty to disclose the testimony of Dr. Perry Fine to defense attorneys, and their failure to do so warranted a new trial.
"It is clear that the likelihood of a different result is sufficiently high so as to undermine the confidence in the outcome of the trial," Kay wrote. "We're very, very pleased (with the ruling) and I'm very pleased for Dr. Weitzel," said Weitzel's attorney, Peter Stirba.
Davis County Attorney Mel Wilson said his office was disappointed with the judge's decision. He said prosecutors dropped Fine, an end-of-life care and pain-management specialist, from their witness list because they did not plan to focus on end-of-life care. Fine had been hired by Davis County prosecutors to evaluate the medical records of the five patients. After reviewing the records, Fine reportedly told two assistant Utah attorney generals that he didn't support a criminal case against Weitzel.
He said the five patients were terminally ill and could have been in pain. Those issues were heavily contested during Weitzel's six-week murder trial. But Kay ruled in December that those statements should have been turned over to the doctor's defense team. His ruling Tuesday went one step further, determining the failure to do so could have affected the outcome of the trial.