Pubdate: Sat, 02 Apr 2005
Source: Roanoke Times (VA)
Copyright: 2005 Roanoke Times
Author: Laurence Hammack
Bookmark: (Oxycontin/Oxycodone)
Bookmark: (Methadone)


The Judge Said Cecil Knox's Cancer Was In Remission, Allowing The Second
Trial To Be Held.

Roanoke physician Cecil Byron Knox, who has battled cancer while
fighting charges that he overprescribed painkillers to his patients,
has recovered enough to stand trial a second time, a federal judge
said in an opinion Friday. This time, Knox's trial will be in
Abingdon. Following an eight-week trial in 2003, a jury sitting in
Roanoke acquitted Knox on some charges but deadlocked on others.

Plans for a second trial were complicated last year when Knox suffered
a relapse of non-Hodgkin's lympho ma. But according to a March 17
letter from Knox's doctor, he appears to be in remission from his
illness, U.S. District Judge James Jones noted in an opinion released
late Friday afternoon. Dr. William Fintel wrote that Knox should rest
at home "while he undergoes the substantial stress of another extended

The circumstances could hardly be more difficult for Cecil, and for
his health's sake I make this request." Federal prosecutors, who asked
Jones to move the trial to Abingdon, have questioned Fintel's
objectivity. They pointed out that he is the trustee for a fund
created to collect money for Knox's legal expenses. In an order moving
the case to Abingdon, Jones wrote that Knox could stay at a hotel
during the retrial. No date has been set. A busy court schedule seems
to indicate that October is the earliest the trial could begin,
according to Tony Anderson, a Roanoke lawyer who represents Knox. "Dr.
Knox's health has always been a primary concern to his defense team
and his family," Anderson said. "He wants to have a fast and speedy
trial, and he remains confident of a favorable resolution." The crux
of the case against Knox is that he prescribed too many painkillers
such as OxyContin and methadone to his patients at Southwest Virginia
Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, causing at least eight to suffer
overdoses. He also was charged with fraud and racketeering, and
prosecutors added a perjury charge after the first trial. Charges
against two co-defendants were dismissed, and a third pleaded guilty,
leaving office manager Beverly Gale Boone as the only other defendant
joining Knox for the second trial. Another issue Jones considered in
moving Knox's trial to Abingdon was the amount of publicity his first
trial received in Roanoke. Before the case was reassigned to Jones,
Judge Samuel Wilson had ordered that jurors from outside the Roanoke
Valley be summoned for the retrial. An Abingdon jury would be less
likely to be affected by the publicity, which "was not necessarily
unfavorable to the defendants," Jones wrote in his opinion.
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