Trial scheduled for former Hospice director

The Associated Press

TUPELO – The former clinical director of Sanctuary Hospice House is scheduled to stand trial next month in a case that stems from the allegedly premature deaths of several patients.

Marilyn Lehman, in Tupelo, was charged in a 33-count indictment in April along with Dr. Paul White, the facility's medical director.

Lehman is charged with 11 misdemeanor counts of practicing medicine without a license for writing orders and administering narcotics without being a physician.

The plead
Lehman pleaded not guilty. Her trial is set for Nov. 17, but Lehman's attorney, Ronald Michael, has asked Circuit Court in Lee County to delay it until February due to a scheduling conflict. Judge Thomas Gardner III did not immediately rule on that motion.

“She's not guilty of what she's accused of and we expect that we'll have our trial and the facts will support that,” Michael said Wednesday.

This is not the first time Lehman has come under scrutiny. In August 2006, she was fined $250 and reprimanded by the Mississippi Board of Nursing for failing to apply for a Mississippi nursing license within 30 days of moving here from Tennessee, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Her attorney would not comment on that.

White pleaded guilty in June to six counts of aiding and abetting the practice of medicine without a license and one felony count of cyber stalking. He was sentenced to two years of probation as part of a plea deal and agreed to testify against Lehman. He denied that his actions hastened the deaths of patients.

Authorities say the doctor allowed Lehman to determine doses and administer narcotics and then backdated the orders she had written.

Hood's comment
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood has said some of the patients were “prematurely dying” from excessive doses of drugs like morphine.

The felony cyber stalking charge against White was related to e-mails the doctor sent to people he thought caused the investigation. White said he was distraught about the investigation and under the influence of scotch and sleeping pills when he sent the threats.