Maryland dentist accused of giving prescription drugs and IVs to girlfriend on trial

Tina Harris knocked on the front door, a terrified mother examining on her daughter.

Sarah answered. The 24-calendar year-aged former splendor queen was an emaciated, unkempt shell of herself. Tina Harris asked her daughter to exhibit her forearms.

“No, mama,” her daughter pleaded.

“I grabbed her arm,” Harris told a jury, “and I pulled at the sleeves. And her minimal arms were being lined in needle marks and bruises.”

Tina Harris recalled the occasions in the course of testimony past 7 days in a demo in Montgomery County, Md., that turns on a complex question jurors will try to solution in the times and possibly months forward.

Was Sarah Harris, who a few months following her mother’s go to died of a drug overdose, murdered? Or was her death in 2022 not felony, but the outcome of a suicide or accident?

The scenario centers on James Ryan, Sarah Harris’s boyfriend, who is accused of killing her by introducing her to medical-quality prescription drugs from his oral medical procedures observe and environment up an IV drip method in their property. Prosecutors argue that even if Ryan didn’t produce the fatal dose himself, he should really be found responsible of “depraved heart” murder by building ailments in his dwelling that he understood were being fatal.

Dentist charged with murder in anesthesia habit situation heads to demo

The 50-12 months-aged seems to have swiped bottles of ketamine, propofol and midazolam from his observe. In the demo that started off Wednesday, prosecutors assert Ryan continued to supply the prescription drugs to Harris for months even as she spiraled into worsening addiction and overall health. Prosecutors performed a law enforcement human body-digital camera recording of Ryan talking to officers the early morning of Jan. 26, 2022, when Sarah Harris, 25 at the time, was identified useless in their dwelling home. Ryan can be listened to on the online video putting accountability on his girlfriend.

Immediately after Ryan’s arrest was designed community previous 12 months, a great deal interest targeted on the dentist.

“Can you notify us about Sarah? What was she like?” Assistant State’s Attorney Kimberly Cissel commenced in questioning Tina Harris.

“Sarah was a bright star,” she explained. “Sarah was entire of lifestyle. She was formidable. She was gifted. She was wise as a whip.”

1 of four youngsters, Sarah Harris received A’s and B’s in faculty as she struggled with mental well being troubles in her mid-teens. She graduated from Quince Orchard Superior School in the Gaithersburg spot, her mother mentioned, and attained a scholarship to Montgomery College or university.

Sarah also participated in natural beauty contests for Pass up Maryland and Overlook Maryland Petite, which she won in 2020, her mother informed jurors. That very same year Sarah Harris took a job at Ryan’s dental apply, Evolution Oral Medical procedures, in Germantown. The two started courting and Sarah sooner or later moved in with Ryan.

“We welcomed him into the loved ones,” Tina Harris testified, adding that she and Ryan communicated day by day and grew near. “That’s why this is even tougher for me.”

An oral surgeon ‘fed’ his girlfriend’s addictions with anesthesia and an IV pole, law enforcement say.

By the fall of 2021, in accordance to testimony from former co-workers, Harris’s efficiency at do the job faded as her body weight saved dropping. “In her eyes, it was just long gone,” one of them reported from the witness stand Friday. “She just seemed broken.”

Tina Harris also testified about improvements she noticed. The in a natural way distinct complexion of her daughter’s experience gave way to dense pimples. On a relatives journey to Orlando with Ryan, she erupted in a burst of anger and didn’t want to go to the pool.

“It was really very hot and she experienced extensive sleeves on, which I believed was strange,” Tina Harris testified.

Sarah Harris quit heading to function. “All she needed to do was rest,” her mom advised jurors. “She just seemed really unhappy all the time, frustrated.”

On Oct. 28, her mom testified, she reached Sarah on the cellular phone and listened to such a stupor in her voice that she drove in excess of to Ryan’s dwelling, achieved a different daughter there, and went inside of.

“I observed hundreds of healthcare bottles that experienced contained medicine,” Tina Harris testified. “I observed IV bags lying all above the ground. I noticed needles all about the floor, I observed blood, blood prints of ft on the floor, paper towels saturated in blood.”

Tina Harris reported she waited for Ryan to come dwelling. He insisted that he’d been attempting to hydrate Sarah Harris and give her sleeping medicine, and it had been difficult to find a suited vein.

Tina Harris testified that she feared what contacting the law enforcement would do to Ryan’s practice and his staff members. Nor did she want to take her daughter to the clinic, she said, fearing the young girl would be dedicated.

As an alternative, Harris claimed she took her daughter property for a week just before her daughter’s return. A month later, Tina Harris said, a relative known as from Ryan’s household. “It was worse,” Harris mentioned.

Then arrived the early morning of Jan. 1. Sarah’s brother Christopher, who lived in Montana, suffered a heart attack. “The physicians instructed us that he wasn’t likely to make it,” Tina Harris claimed.

Tina Harris flew out to see him that working day with Sarah and other family members members. Christopher, 38, died 8 days later on.

As heartbreaking as it was to Sarah Harris, the grief was also a vital section in trying to understand how she died, argued Thomas DeGonia, a person of Ryan’s lawyers.

“She sunk further more and additional into despair,” he informed the jury.

DeGonia also submitted as probable evidence a Facebook write-up Sarah Harris wrote about her brother on Jan. 24, 2022, two times ahead of her loss of life. “My coronary heart is genuinely shattered, there are no text,” she wrote. “Never goodbye, I’ll see you before long significant bro.” It is unclear nonetheless whether the publish will be admitted as proof or irrespective of whether jurors will be authorized to think about it.

That very same working day and the subsequent, Sarah Harris, her mother and other relatives members frequented cemeteries wanting for an acceptable place for her brother.

“We identified a plot,” Tina Harris told jurors, “a loved ones estate plot that I seriously favored and Sarah actually liked.”

Sarah Harris also explained the web page in a text messages penned to Ryan at his business.

“We picked a plot at a cemetery in Rockville correct by a stream,” she wrote. “It’s really beautiful.”

Sarah Harris also texted Ryan to request him to carry home ketamine and a needle, which he agreed to do. The dentist went to bed about 10:30 that night time, he later explained to law enforcement, introducing that Sarah Harris remained downstairs and seemed all right. In the morning, he discovered her unresponsive and known as 911.

DeGonia informed jurors that to convict Ryan of wicked coronary heart murder, prosecutors should show that Ryan held “an excessive indifference” to the younger woman’s life. But the pair cared deeply for each individual other, the legal professional mentioned.

“These two flawed individuals’ lives grew to become entangled, surely,” DeGonia claimed. “And in his have, misguided way, James tried using to help Sarah. And Sarah continued to struggle with depression, stress and reduction in her personal family.”

The legal professional performed Ryan’s 911 call, hoping jurors could listen to deep anguish in his voice. “She’s not respiratory,” Ryan stated on the recording by means of high-pitched cries.

Prosecutors countered that Ryan’s recklessness explained to a different tale — and how the safeguards he took with his individuals at his business office though surgical assistants, clinical checking and nearby crisis care gear have been tossed out at home.

“When it arrived to Sarah Harris,” Montgomery County Assistant State’s Lawyer Jennifer Harrison mentioned, “he remaining her unmonitored. Frequently he would depart her and go to rest for the evening, leaving her hooked up to an IV on these hazardous medicines.”

And when he spoke to responding officers, Ryan appeared to duck duty for the periods he brought household drugs for Harris.

“She tried to be magic formula about it,” Ryan told Officer James Baker, in accordance to system-cam movie performed in court docket.

“She can take ketamine,” Ryan also reported. “She employed to take propofol, much too. She utilized to steal that from my office environment.”

Prosecutors also named as a witness the professional medical examiner who carried out the autopsy. Ling Li testified that Sarah Harris was only 83 lbs at her demise. Li mentioned Harris died of blended ketamine, propofol and diazepam intoxication.

But Li explained she could not notify from a purely forensic issue of check out how the medicines acquired inside of Harris. “There are a few alternatives,” Li testified.

“A possibility of a suicide, probability of accidental demise, or even a murder.”


An earlier variation of this short article incorrectly explained that Quince Orchard Higher College is in Germantown. It is in the Gaithersburg location. The report has been corrected.

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