Oral surgeon convicted of murder in girlfriend’s drug overdose death

An oral surgeon in Maryland has been found guilty of murder after his girlfriend died from an overdose of anesthetic drugs that he administered. The defendant, James Ryan, was convicted on Friday in Montgomery County Circuit Court. The jury heard evidence that Ryan had set up an intravenous stand to supply his 25-year-old girlfriend, Sarah Harris, with addictive drugs.

Harris was discovered lifeless at Ryan’s home in January 2022. The autopsy revealed that she died from intoxication caused by ketamine, propofol, and diazepam. Prosecutors argued that Ryan displayed a callous disregard for Harris’ life by repeatedly providing her with dangerous anesthetic drugs despite being aware of the risks. Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Harrison emphasized Ryan’s expertise as an oral surgeon and his knowledge of the potential dangers associated with these drugs. Harrison stated that Ryan continued to supply Harris with the substances even as her addiction and health deteriorated. At the time of her death, Harris weighed a mere 83 pounds (37 kilograms).

During the trial, Ryan chose not to testify. His defense attorneys contended that Harris’s death was either a suicide or an accidental overdose that she administered to herself. Defense attorney Thomas DeGonia informed the jury that Harris had previously requested ketamine from Ryan to alleviate her depression. The defense also highlighted the fact that Harris had initially become acquainted with Ryan as a patient at his Germantown office before their relationship developed.

Ryan’s sentencing date has yet to be determined. If given the maximum sentence, he could face up to 55 years in prison.