A former Kailua dentist indicted on 37 counts in connection with the death of a three-year-old patient pleaded not guilty in circuit court Monday morning.
Lilly Geyer turned herself in to authorities Sept. 26 on charges including manslaughter, assault, prohibited acts related to controlled substances, and medical assistance fraud. She was released after posting $100,000.
The indictment is based on events involving patients from October – December 2013 and April 2016. Two of the patients in the indictment were under the age of eight which means Geyer is facing enhanced sentencing.
Geyer’s attorney Michael Green said his client’s case should have never gone beyond a civil courtroom. “It’s tragic when anyone dies, much less when it’s a child. My client was sued for negligence. This child dies over a month after she leaves the office. The issue and cause of death will be something we’ll discuss and litigate in this case.
“The tragedy of this death was compounded by the tragedy of charging a doctor criminally. … The government turns around and charges her with manslaughter, among other things. That means to me that any doctor who is accused of a wrongful death in the treatment or care of a patient can wind up in the same position as this doctor.”
Geyer’s trial date is set for Dec. 5.
Is the criteria for manslaughter any different in this case, since the defendant is a doctor?
We went to the University of Hawaii William S. Richardson School of Law to find out.
“The criteria is the same. You have to be reckless,” said law professor Ken Lawson.
Lawson said the state has to prove Boyle’s death was set into motion because the defendant was reckless.
“Most doctors get sued civilly for negligence. They should’ve known, but did not know that their standard of care fell below what’s required,” he said. “Recklessness is when you know that you’re taking a risk, but you consciously disregard that known risk.”
“I don’t even see how they get to the point of manslaughter in this case. This is over charged in my opinion and we will litigate it one day,” said Green.
Lawson said it’s possible, but not likely other doctors could change the way they practice depending on the outcome.
“When you start charging physicians and other professions with criminal wrongdoing, then you’re going to have professionals turning away patients, saying ‘I don’t want to take the chance. I could be criminally charged,’” Lawson said.