A Casper doctor facing federal drug conspiracy charges was set up by over-zealous prosecutors and co-defendants desperate to reduce their risk of imprisonment, the doctor’s Chicago defense attorney said during the closing of a nearly monthlong trial.
Beau Brindley, who is defending Dr. Shakeel Kahn against 21 felonies in the case, said prosecutors and law enforcement introduced a series of witnesses who lied under oath. Brindley said the witnesses — who include the doctor’s wife, Lyn Kahn — were brought by the government’s lawyers because they could not prove an essential element of their case: the doctor’s intent.
The doctor could face a sentence ranging from 20 years to life in prison if he is convicted of either of the two most serious counts prosecutors have brought against him: one that accuses him of responsibility in the 2015 overdose death of an Arizona woman and another that alleges he made millions of dollars by heading up a drug ring.
On Friday and Monday, Kahn spent hours on the witness stand, telling jurors he followed the law while attempting to help his patients treat chronic pain and that the treatment methods he used were medically appropriate.
Attorneys concluded their presentation of evidence Monday, and on Tuesday they met to prepare instructions for Judge Alan Johnson to read to 15 people sitting in a jury box in Casper’s federal courthouse.
The same afternoon, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Sprecher began her closing arguments. Over the course of an hour and a half, she told jurors that Kahn and his brother Nabeel — who faces two felonies in the case — were part of a drug conspiracy that eventually led to the 2015 death of Jessica Burch, of Arizona.
Systematically working her way through the elements of the 23 crimes she charged in the case, Sprecher told jurors that the brothers knew the doctor’s patients were re-selling their painkiller, muscle relaxer and anti-anxiety drugs. Dr. Kahn continued to write the prescriptions, she said, because of the lucrative nature of the enterprise.
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When Sprecher concluded her statement, about an hour remained on the clock, time she will be allowed to use Wednesday to rebut defense arguments.
After a short recess, Brindley then took to the lectern and, after presenting a definition of reasonable doubt, which is the standard of proof prosecutors must overcome to obtain convictions, said five witnesses’ testimony had changed from initial statements made to investigators. He said they had all changed in the same way: to show the doctor intended to distribute pills improperly.
He then, as he has throughout the trial, said the witnesses lied to jurors.
As he hollered and waved his hands, his wristwatch splashing light around the courtroom, he said prosecutors were implicated in the deception and had induced jurors to lie.
“(The witnesses told) lies that are bought and paid for by plea agreements,” Brindley said.
Johnson concluded the hearing by 6:10 p.m.
On Wednesday, Nabeel Kahn’s attorneys will have opportunity to present a closing argument before Sprecher speaks again and the case is handed over to jurors.