Oncologist Poisoning Trial Delayed by Secret Phone Tapes

Nick Mulcahy

September 09, 2014

The impending trial of Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo, the MD Anderson Cancer Center oncologist accused of poisoning her fellow oncologist and ex-lover at the Houston center, may be even more sensational than anticipated.

Prosecutors claimed that Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo stated in secretly recorded telephone calls that "she has had people killed" in the past, according to a story in the Houston Chronicle.

The disclosure about the phone calls by the prosecutors was made in court minutes before jury selection was due to begin and has resulted in a delay of the trial being granted to the defense.

The phone calls were not recorded by the police or the Harris County District Attorney's office, Jeff McShan, public information office for the district attorney, told Medscape Medical News.

"The phone calls were discovered by the prosecution," said McShan, referring to the fact finding and evidence gathering preceding the trial.

Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo, a breast cancer specialist, has been charged with the aggravated assault of her ex-sex partner George Blumenshein, MD, a lung and head/neck oncologist.

Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo allegedly poisoned her lover's coffee with ethylene glycol, a common lab chemical that is also an ingredient in antifreeze and can be fatal, at her home in Houston in January 2013.

She was charged with the crime in June 2013 and then formally indicted on the felony charge in September 2013.

Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo's attorney has repeatedly stated that she is not guilty of the charge. She has never been convicted of any crime in past.

The latest drama in the case unfolded last week in the courtroom of state District Judge Katherine Cabaniss.

Prosecutors in Texas are required to notify defense attorneys if they intend to use evidence of a suspect's prior convictions or "extraneous offenses." The recorded phone calls and their supposedly incriminating statements are considered to be extraneous offenses. The information may or may not eventually be heard by a jury.

Last week, Judge Cabaniss said the prosecutors' written notice to Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo's defense about the phone call content was too vague. This, in turn, prompted prosecutors to make the content of the secretly recorded phone call public in court, before the start of the trial. Reportedly, 60 prospective jurors were waiting in the hallway while these actions transpired.

In the phone calls, Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo also supposedly made "several incriminating statements, including allegedly disclosing her lover's private medical information and telling others secret grand jury information that had been disclosed to her attorneys," according to the newspaper account.

Grand jury testimony is secret under Texas law, so any disclosure of that information could be illegal.

According to the newspaper, Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo allegedly stated in the phone calls "that she planned to seek revenge on people who testified against her during grand jury proceedings and sue others."

Jury selection has been rescheduled for September 11, and the trial is set to begin September 15.

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