Related topics

Utah Man Charged in Cancer Patient’s Death

November 21, 2004

PROVO, Utah (AP) _ A practitioner of alternative medicine who allegedly discouraged a woman with breast cancer from getting chemotherapy has been charged in her death.

David Eugene Pontius, 61, was charged Tuesday with unlawful and unprofessional conduct for treating the woman for six months before she died Oct. 20. He faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted on all three counts.

Diane Shepherd allegedly refused chemotherapy and surgery from her physician and instead relied on Pontius’ holistic treatment after being diagnosed with cancer in April, according to court documents.

Pontius allegedly determined that Shepherd’s cancer developed because of gangrene and mercury poisoning in her teeth. His treatment included chiropractic adjustments and a diet with apricot kernels.

Prosecutors say a dentist has refuted that diagnosis.

Pontius’ attorney, Denver Snuffer, blamed the case on Utah laws, which he said unfairly penalize practitioners like his client. ``Medicine has a monopoly, and it’s enforced by the licensing department from the state of Utah,″ Snuffer said.

Shepherd received checkups from an oncologist who told her she would die by October if not promptly treated, according to an arrest affidavit. The document says Pontius discouraged Shepherd from receiving chemotherapy because it ``kills both the good and bad cells and makes people sick.″

Pontius is licensed to practice holistic medicine in other states, but Utah does not recognize those licenses and has rejected his efforts to become licensed, Snuffer said.

Pontius’ first hearing is set for Dec. 2.