Peter Normann, Doctor on Trial for Allegedly Killing Three Patients, Covers His Butt in Police Statement Presented to Jury
|Victim Ralph Gonzales|
Only interjecting stream-of-conscious to ask a few questions, Maricopa County Detective Kristina Bucaro spent much of the interview listening to Normann churn out accounts of his medical career.
He talked easily about the deaths of three patients between December 2006 and July 2007, chatting hastily about the botched procedures.
In the case of Ralph Gonzales, Normann's alleged first victim, Normann says there was nothing he did during the liposuction procedure that could have caused Gonzales' death and was "overwrought" in trying to come up with answers.
When none turned up, Normann tried to pin the emergency medical technician who arrived at the scene with a faulty intubation.
"I'm better than any EMT you ever saw," Normann boasted. "I am not at all happy with what the EMT did in my office. How freaking backwards can you guys get on this?"
Prosecutors already have proven it was actually Normann's messed-up intubation that caused harm, tearing a hole in Gonzales' esophagus.
Next came Alicia Santizo Blanco. She went under the knife for liposuction, breast reconstruction, and a butt augmentation -- procedures that shouldn't be done in one sitting, according medical experts and even Normann himself.
"It makes no sense to do it this way," Normann says in his statement.
But he performed the three consecutive surgeries anyway -- never explaining why -- and Blanco died of a fat embolism later that day.
Normann gave a play-by-play of how Blanco coded on his operating table. "Nothing, nothing changed her.
"When you have liposuction, there's always a risk," he continues. "When you have fat augmentation, there's always a risk. It's a known side effect. Just tragic."
With training in internal medicine, Normann claims the majority of his career before moving to Arizona was spent in emergency care, primarily working in emergency rooms.
But in 2002, he made the move to cosmetic surgery. Interested in the medical conference scene, Normann primarily received his training from convention seminars and various hands-on courses.
He started small, only doing hair transplants before moving to Arizona in 2004.
"I kind of knew what I was heading towards," Normann says in his statement. "I thought I'd just do hair transplants. I kind of had my sights set on [cosmetic surgery]."
Normann went on about the "hundreds and hundreds of hours" he spent in laser hair removal training.
In 2006, Normann started performing liposuction surgeries. He was quick to claim that his jump into cosmetic surgery was nothing out of the ordinary for a dermatologist. Saying doctors who perform microdermabrasions and laser hair removal are also qualified to perform liposuction surgeries.
Normann never billed himself as a dermatologist, according to court documents and media reports.
"I'd say 99 percent of what I do is what any dermatologist can do or should do in their office," he says. "I figured I had gone to enough meetings and enough conferences."
With the "general gist" of these procedures down, Normann set up shop in Anthem with a rag-tag crew of "medical assistants" and other aides -- the problem being that his assistants were never certified by the state and could not legally perform Normann's medical bidding.
Later in his statement, Normann says he regrets never signing up his assistant, Joey Lopez, for state certification. However, he maintains that training should be the responsibility of the individual physician.
"I'd never [had] an office before so I never had the issue of negligent assistance before," Normann says. "I didn't understand, honestly. There's no excuse; I should have known. But it makes no sense as to what a medical assistant can or cannot do."
After the start of the police investigation, Normann fled to North Carolina, and Bucaro had to track him down through his brother. Normann claimed he went to Raleigh to pursue a new job in "medical software kind of sales."
Normann's case continues Monday morning.