The unusual criminal prosecution of Dr. Lydia Grotti is one of the most interesting and best-tried cases in North Texas in forever. Grotti, a former emergency room doctor, was tried for murdering a patient, convicted by a Tarrant County jury of the lesser charge of criminally negligent homicide and sentenced to two years in jail in 2004. In 2006 Fort Worth’s 2nd Court of Appeals reversed her conviction, ruling that the evidence didn’t match the conviction -- a decision the Court of Criminal Appeals upheld on June 25. And last Friday, the final chapter was written in Grotti’s sad case when a special prosecutor assigned to handle the case filed a motion to dismiss it, which 372nd District Judge Scott Wisch approved. The key issue in the appeal was whether the victim, 64-year-old cancer patient Lettie McGhee, was alive when Grotti occluded McGhee’s endotracheal tube. McGhee was breathing, but Grotti testified that McGhee was already dead when she blocked the tube -- the breath McGhee was exhibiting was not life sustaining, Grotti testified. According to the motion, the prosecution has no more evidence to prove that McGhee was alive at the time of the offense. “The court of appeals said that we needed additional evidence to demonstrate that the victim was in fact alive at the time that gave rise to the charge. And we gave all of that evidence at trial,’’ says Geff Anderson, a partner in Fort Worth’s Anderson Smyer Riddle & Kuehler and a special prosecutor assigned to the case who filed the motion. Anderson handled the case as a special prosecutor after the Tarrant County DA’s Office recused itself, because it represents the county hospital where Grotti once worked. Keith Ward (pictured) of Tulsa, Okla.'s Keith Ward & Associates who represents Grotti, says he’s happy with the prosecution’s decision to drop the case. “It’s extremely gratifying that something that you believed in so strongly has come to pass,’’ Ward says. “I agree with his assessment, and I commend him for doing the right thing,” Ward says of Anderson.
-- John Council