Jury acquits Indianapolis doctor charged in patients' deaths

May 15, 2017

A former Indianapolis doctor has been found not guilty of all charges in the deaths of three people who prosecutors said overdosed on painkillers that he prescribed.

A jury acquitted Dr. John K. Sturman of reckless homicide and 16 counts of improperly prescribing drugs on Monday following a six-day trial, WRTV-TV reported.

The patients died in 2010 and 2011 while Sturman operated a clinic at Indiana University Hospital in Indianapolis. He lost admitting privileges there in 2012.

After his tenure at IU Health, Sturman worked as the chief of pain management for the VA Illiana Health Care System. The health network's website does not currently list him on staff.

Indiana authorities began investigating Sturman's prescription practices in 2012 after two patients and an addiction counselor filed complaints against him. They said there was a pattern of him prescribing high-dose narcotics for addiction and not the treatment of chronic pain, prosecutors contend.

He was charged with reckless homicide in August 2015.

The three dead patients' names aren't included in court records, but a probable cause affidavit identifies them as women from Indianapolis and southwestern Indiana's Decatur County and a man from the western Indiana town of Shelburn.

Sturman faced a sentence of two years to eight years in prison if convicted on each of the most serious charges against him.


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