The Saga of Bill Carter, Part 4

October 6, 2010

Bill Carter had been misled and information about the death of his son had been withheld and misrepresented by the District Attorney's and coroner’s offices of Lancaster County. Jon Rutter, a newspaper reporter from the local Lancaster newspaper, took an interest in the case and published a series of reports that brought public attention to the case.

Editor's Note: The following short series involves a case in which the author was involved. Read Part 1 , Part 2, and Part 3.

Part 4: All The World’s Tears and Hubris

Bill Carter surrendered his medical license on February 24, 2010. He found himself with no source of income and no way to put food on the table for the rest of his family. His wife Barbara became the breadwinner and Bill supported her, helping to run her office. These were lean times for the Carter family and the ghost of Connor rambled through the walls and dinner table and empty rooms of their house.

Since Bill had agreed to surrender his medical license, the District Attorney agreed to release more of Connor’s autopsy results. When Dr. Carter read that his son had a pulmonary embolus and an abnormally enlarged heart, he felt as if his breath had been pulled from his lungs. Why had this information been kept from him? Who was making the decisions in the District Attorney’s and coroner’s offices? Why had no one from either office contacted him or talked with him directly? After more than a year of harassment, Bill Carter’s soft despair hardened into outrage.

Bill Carter had been misled and information about the death of his son had been withheld and misrepresented by the District Attorney's and coroner’s offices of Lancaster County. Jon Rutter, a newspaper reporter from the local Lancaster newspaper, took an interest in the case and published a series of reports that brought public attention to the case.

Under withering criticism, the District Attorney agreed to be interviewed by Mr. Rutter. The explanations provided by Craig Stedman, the DA, are fascinating and confusing. Mr. Stedman described what a terrible toll the Carter case had taken on him. He explained how the case made him feel terrible and how law school never prepared him to make such agonizing decisions. Mr. Stedman explained how frustrating it was “to be vilified week after week” online and in the newspaper, according Mr. Rutter's coverage. Compared to the horror and harassment that the Carters have lived through with dignity and strength, Mr. Stedman’s complaining is whiny and thin-skinned.

Mr. Stedman stated that “Nobody wanted to send him [Dr. Carter] to jail.” If that is true, then why was he initially threatened with a charge that brings a mandatory five-year prison sentence?

Dr. Carter has asked for all Connor’s autopsy results, including the cardiac histology reports, but Mr. Stedman, even now, refuses to turn over the histology results and offers as his explanation "because he is still under ARD supervision, such evidence cannot be turned over to him." If that is true, why were the toxicology and other results of the autopsy released to Dr. Carter?

Nothing in any of these proceedings made any sense.

Mr. Stedman decided to drop the more serious charges against Dr. Carter after being presented with my analysis of the toxicology results and members of the community contacted the DA’s office in support of Bill Carter. Physicians organized and explained to the DA that most physicians are unaware of the drug diversion laws and didn’t know that giving one patient’s medication to a different patient was a crime.

In between surrendering his license and the DA’s decision to reverse the charges, Dr. Carter hired Heidi Eakin, a new attorney from Harrisburg, who had previously worked in the Lancaster County DA’s office and was familiar with Mr. Stedman. Ms. Eakin quickly and aggressively made Mr. Stedman realize the senseless nature of the charges and was instrumental in changing the nature of the proceeding.

Public pressure continued, the Carter’s struggled to reach each sunrise, Connor’s class matriculated through high school without him, and his memory lingered in every corner of the Carter household.

In a special hearing in late August, Dr. Carter’s medical license was reinstated.

Note: All quotes and statements attributed to Mr. Stedman were published here at LancasterOnline.com, where archives of Mr. Rutter's series are also available.