Herbalist Convicted of Practicing Without a License in Diabetic 13-Year-Old's Death

The prosecutor told jurors the man gave "hope'' to the teen's family by convincing them to use herbal products instead of insulin to treat his Type 1 diabetes before the teen's August 2014 death.

What to Know

  • Edgar Lopez, who suffered from diabetes, died August 2014.
  • The boy's mother told jurors the herbalist had warned her "not to trust doctors,'' and that she "absolutely'' felt he had brain-washed her.
  • Jurors were still deliberating on a misdemeanor child abuse count.

An herbalist was convicted Wednesday of practicing medicine without a license in connection with the death of a 13-year-old diabetic boy from the Harbor Gateway area.

Jurors were instructed to return to court Thursday to continue their deliberations on a misdemeanor child abuse count, after the panel reported that it was hopelessly deadlocked on that charge.

The panel deliberated about two hours before finding Timothy Morrow, 84, guilty of the misdemeanor charge of practicing without a license.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Victoria B. Wilson noted that there "seems to have been some movement'' in the three votes taken on the remaining charge stemming from Edgar Lopez's death, despite each of the jurors telling her that they believed the panel was deadlocked on that count.

"Let's come back one more day and see if you can reach a verdict. If you can, you can. If you can't, you can't,'' the judge told the seven-woman, five-man panel. "Bear with me for one more day."

In closing arguments Tuesday, Los Angeles Deputy City Attorney Heidi Matz told jurors that Morrow gave "hope'' to the teen's family by assuring the boy's mother that he was going through a "healing crisis'' and convincing them to use herbal products instead of insulin to treat his Type 1 diabetes before the teen's August 2014 death. She cited what she called "criminal negligence" and "callous disregard'' by Morrow.


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Morrow's attorney, Sanford Perliss, countered that the teen's mother didn't even know Morrow when she informed a doctor that she wanted to give her son herbal remedies.

"Nobody held a gun on Edgar. Nobody held a gun on Edgar's mom. Nobody stole insulin from that house so Edgar's mom couldn't use it,'' the defense attorney said in his closing argument before the downtown Los Angeles jury.

"Edgar's mom wanted to do what Edgar's mom wanted to do."

The herbalist's attorney noted that the teen's mother testified about growing up in Mexico using traditional remedies and about Morrow telling her his story about successfully battling cancer without undergo chemotherapy or radiation.

"That's his life,'' Perliss said. "Is it a crime to tell people your experiences?''

The defense lawyer -- who urged jurors to acquit his client -- suggested that Morrow became a "sacrificial lamb'' after the teen's death, and said that the case "hasn't been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.''

In her rebuttal argument, the prosecutor countered, "This case is proven beyond any doubt ...''

She told jurors that the boy died within hours of Morrow visiting the family's home and that Morrow's control over the boy's family did not abate until the teen passed away.

"Edgar died unnecessarily and today we are here for him,'' the deputy city attorney said.

Through a Spanish interpreter, the teen's mother, Maria Madrigal, testified last week that she initially began giving her son supplements and only used products that Morrow sold after meeting him. She told jurors that Morrow had warned her "not to trust doctors,'' and that she "absolutely'' felt he had brain-washed her.

Morrow could face up to two years in jail and a $10,000 fine if convicted of both charges, the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office said last year shortly after the case was filed.

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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