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Maryland oral surgeon convicted of murder in girlfriend's overdose death

ROCKVILLE, Md. (AP) — An oral surgeon was convicted on Friday of a murder charge in the death of his girlfriend who overdosed on anesthetic drugs that he administered at his Maryland home.

Jurors heard testimony that James Ryan, 50, set up an intravenous stand to administer the addictive drugs to his 25-year-old girlfriend, Sarah Harris, who was found dead at his Montgomery County home in January 2022.

Ryan faces a maximum of 55 years in prison when he is sentenced at a date to be determined, The Washington Post reported.

An autopsy found that Harris died of intoxication from ketamine, propofol and diazepam.

Prosecutors argued that Ryan showed “an extreme indifference” to Harris' life by continuously supplying her with drugs as her addiction and health worsened. She weighed 83 pounds (37 kilograms) at the time of her death.

Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Harrison said Ryan was a skilled oral surgeon who knew how risky the drugs could be.

“And despite his vast knowledge and training in the field, he continuously provided these dangerous, deadly anesthetic drugs to Sarah Harris over a period of time even as he watched her deteriorate before his eyes,” the prosecutor told jurors.

Ryan did not testify at his trial in Montgomery County Circuit Court. His lawyers argued that Harris died of either suicide or an accidental overdose that she administered to herself. Defense attorney Thomas DeGonia told jurors that Harris had asked Ryan for ketamine for “relief from her depression” months before her death.

Harris began working for Ryan and dating him after she was a patient at his office in Germantown, Maryland.