A jury of five men and seven women began deliberations Wednesday in the case of a doctor accused of operating a drug conspiracy out of his Casper office.
The start of deliberations marks the final phase of a trial that spanned nearly a month, during which federal prosecutors presented more than 10,000 exhibits and called dozens of witnesses in their 21-felony case against Shakeel Kahn. They alleged he operated a multi-state drug conspiracy that led to the 2015 overdose death of an Arizona woman.
His brother, Nabeel, faces two felonies in the case. Another three former co-defendants pleaded guilty in federal court earlier this year and testified for the government during the proceedings against the two men.
Kahn testified in his own defense over the course of two days, 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.
Beau Brindley, a defense attorney representing the doctor, said during closing arguments Tuesday that his client had been set up by co-defendants desperate to improve their own standing with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and by prosecutors who looked away while the same co-defendants lied on the stand.
Wednesday morning, a defense attorney for Nabeel Kahn told jurors that prosecutors had not proven beyond a reasonable doubt that his client had committed the crimes alleged.
“Quite frankly, it’s not close,” Sean Barrett told the jury during his 50-minute statement. “It isn’t even close.”
Barrett then ceded the lectern to Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Sprecher. The prosecutor, who on Tuesday spoke for only 90 minutes of her allotted two-and-a-half hours, told jurors that Brindley’s characterization of the government’s witnesses and the rewards they would receive for cooperation were inaccurate.
Statements witnesses made on cross-examination — and that Brindley presented as lies — were sometimes in response to convoluted or confusing questions, Sprecher said. She said modified medical records were an attempt by Shakeel Kahn to deceive authorities, not mere sloppiness.
“He knew he was committing crimes and he needed a way to cover it up,” Sprecher said.
The prosecutor said the doctor lied extensively to jurors, and pointed at a record of deception — including in the medical records she referenced and in a medical school application — to support her claim. She said that although the doctor would initially expect that patients lie about their drug use and pain to obtain medications, it was only to create a veneer of legitimacy.
“Why the lies?” Sprecher asked, rhetorically. “Because there was a possibility that this day would come.”
After Sprecher concluded her argument, Judge Alan Johnson read through an eight-page verdict form and whittled the jury from 15 to 12 by drawing numbers from a wooden box. Jurors were led from the courtroom to begin deliberations by 10:48 a.m.
The jury remained in deliberations Wednesday evening.