A state board has decided not to reinstate the medical license of Ogden pediatrician Sherman Johnson, who pleaded guilty to killing a Sunset woman with a fatal narcotic injection.
The state Physicians Licensing Board conducted a hearing Wednesday, issuing its judgment Thursday morning, said state occupational and professional licensing director David Robinson.During the hearing, Johnson was subjected to tough grilling by some members of the board and by Robinson. Robinson said Thursday that Johnson may appeal the ruling to the department's executive director. The board told Johnson that if he does certain things, such as get further education on treating drug-addicted patients, the board may rehear the matter.
The board's chief concerns centered on Johnson's apparent detachment and his unwillingness to face the facts of the case as established during the investigation of the 1989 death of Donna Marie Jones, 33.
Robinson and board member Dr. George L. Van Komen pushed Johnson to recant statements he made to the board.
Van Komen chastised Johnson for repeating his version of the story of Jones' death - that she had died after receiving an intramuscular injection - when postmortem analysis and toxicology reports showed Jones had died no more than 30 minutes after she was injected, which implies an intravenous injection.
Robinson took Johnson to task after he denied billing The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for reimbursement of $48,000 he had charged to Ogden pharmacies for the Demerol he had prescribed illegally to Jones over a six-month period. Robinson asked how the board could be expected to allow Johnson to resume a pediatric practice given the facts of the case.
After Robinson asked whether Johnson considered the question unfair, Johnson said that other doctors had sympathized with him.
"Yet I come to the board still the accused, still the murderer in some of your eyes. I have cried privately," he said. "I don't know what you want to feel from me."
Johnson's account of how Jones died "is a major impasse for me," said Van Komen. "I would believe the moon's made out of cheese easier than I would believe your story," he added.
But board member Dr. Robert Brodstein said the issue is whether Johnson poses a risk to the public.
"Some of us feel you killed her," Brodstein said. "I tend to feel you were duped and used horrible, horrible judgment. I don't know where we go from here."
Johnson in 1992 pleaded guilty to manslaughter in Jones' death, admitting he administered the fatal dose and prescribed narcotics to the profoundly disturbed woman.
Jones had claimed to have ovarian cancer that she said - and Johnson has said he believed - was injected into her by a coven of gay doctors and witches. Though Johnson was a pediatrician, he treated her without consulting an oncologist. Nor did he ever examine her physically for the surgical scars she claimed to have but in fact did not exist.