Jury deadlocks, retrial planned for Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski
Mar. 03, 1997
HOUSTON (AP) _ Prosecutors vowed to retry a self-described medical revolutionary who treats cancer patients with a compound found in human urine after a jury deadlocked Monday.
Jurors split 6-6 on all 75 counts against Dr. Stanislaw Burzynski, who was accused of charging desperate patients thousands of dollars for unproven cancer treatments. They deliberated for seven days before U.S. District Judge Sim Lake declared a mistrial.
Lake acquitted Burzynski of 34 counts of mail fraud, saying the government failed to prove the doctor billed insurance companies for treatment he did not perform. He set a May 19 retrial on the remaining charges of introducing an unapproved drug into interstate commerce and contempt of court.
``We are very happy,'' a smiling Burzynski said, adding that the outcome was a huge relief for his patients. ``It's more important for them than for me. My life is not at stake.''
Prosecutors painted the Polish-born, 54-year-old Burzynski as a profiteer who preyed on the terminally ill. But throughout his six-week trial, supportive patients and their relatives held rallies outside the courthouse. They tearfully characterized the doctor as their only hope.
Burzynski, who claims he's being unfairly hounded by a bureaucratic Food and Drug Administration and jealous medical establishment, believes antineoplastons, compounds found in human urine, serve as biochemical ``turn-off'' switches for cancer genes.
To stay in practice, he recently agreed to prove his drugs by enrolling about 300 current patients in a research program approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Jurors said as they left the courthouse that they were divided from the start, and the six for acquittal never wavered.
``The big problem was intent,'' explained juror Sharon Wray, 37, a legal assistant. ``I don't think he woke up one day and said `I think I'll break the law.'''
Juror Darlene Phillips concurred.
``If we had to have decided `Did he break this law,' probably most of us could have made that decision by noon last Monday,'' Ms. Phillips said.
``But the judge's instructions went a little bit further and we had to say that he not only broke those laws, that he did it with the intent to mislead and to defraud.''