With jurors deadlocked on a misdemeanor child abuse charge against an herbalist already convicted of practicing medicine without a license, a judge Friday declared a mistrial on the charge, which stemmed from the death of a 13-year-old diabetic boy from the Harbor-Gateway area.
Timothy Morrow, 84, was convicted Wednesday of practicing medicine without a license, but jurors were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the misdemeanor child abuse count. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria B. Wilson repeatedly set the jurors back to the deliberation room, noting Thursday that there appeared to have been “movement in the votes” on the child abuse charge stemming from Edgar Lopez’s August 2014 death.
But the seven-woman, five-man jury announced Friday it was still unable to break the deadlock, with the panel split 9-3 in favor of guilt.
In closing arguments Tuesday, Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Heidi Matz told jurors that Morrow gave “hope” to the teen’s family by assuring the boy’s mother that he was going through a “healing crisis” and convincing them to use herbal products instead of insulin to treat his Type 1 diabetes before the teen’s August 2014 death. She cited what she called “criminal negligence” and “callous disregard” by Morrow.
Morrow’s attorney, Sanford Perliss, countered that the teen’s mother didn’t even know Morrow when she informed a doctor that she wanted to give her son herbal remedies.
“Nobody held a gun on Edgar. Nobody held a gun on Edgar’s mom. Nobody stole insulin from that house so Edgar’s mom couldn’t use it,” the defense attorney said in his closing argument. “Edgar’s mom wanted to do what Edgar’s mom wanted to do.”
The herbalist’s attorney noted that the teen’s mother testified about growing up in Mexico using traditional remedies and about Morrow telling her his story about successfully battling cancer without undergoing chemotherapy or radiation.
“That’s his life,” Perliss said. “Is it a crime to tell people your experiences?”
The defense lawyer — who urged jurors to acquit his client — suggested that Morrow became a “sacrificial lamb” after the teen’s death, and said the case “hasn’t been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.”
In her rebuttal argument, the prosecutor countered, “This case is proven beyond any doubt …”
She told jurors the boy died within hours of Morrow visiting the family’s home and that Morrow’s control over the boy’s family did not abate until the teen passed away.
“Edgar died unnecessarily and today we are here for him,” the deputy city attorney said.
Through a Spanish interpreter, the teen’s mother, Maria Madrigal, testified last week that she initially began giving her son supplements and only used products that Morrow sold after meeting him. She told jurors that Morrow had warned her “not to trust doctors,” and that she “absolutely” felt he had brain-washed her.
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