The Trial of Dr. Chua
Chua, 45, has been held in the Camden County jail since September 2006 when he was arrested and charged with the drug overdose death of Jamie Carter III. Prosecutors say Carter, 20, died from drugs Chua prescribed for no legitimate medical purpose.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Chua sentenced to life in prison on murder conviction

Judge Amanda Williams sentenced Noel Chua to life in prison after a jury returned a unanimous guilty verdict on felony murder charges in the overdose death of Jamie Carter.
Williams also sentenced Chua to five years in prison after he was found guilty of seven of 16 drug charges for violating the Georgia Controlled Substance Act.
After the sentence was read, Chua was led from the courtroom. He will be held at the Glynn County Jail until Friday when Williams will consider a request from defense attorney Donald Samuel to have Chua held at the Camden County Jail.
District Attorney Stephen Kelley asked Williams to hold Chua in Glynn County because the convicted murderer had been given preferential treatment such as being seen unsupervised outside the Camden County Jail before his trial.

Chua guilty of felony murder and seven drug charges

After nearly 11 hours of deliberations, a five woman, seven man jury found Noel Chua guilty of felony murder and seven of the 16 drug charges for violating Georgia's Controlled Substance Act.

Prior the clerk of court reading the verdict, Judge Williams told the audience she would allow no outbursts or they would be arrested.

After the verdict was read, Williams asked each juror answered individually that his or her verdict was freely and voluntarily given. Each juror answered yes to the question.

Chua sat erect and displayed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were read, but supporters of the doctor in the audience slumped as the guilty verdicts were read.

Jury still weighing evidence

Jurors have been in their chambers since before 10 a.m. weighing evidence in the trial of Noel Chua. Court officials brought a carry-out meal for jurors about 7 p.m., rather than bring them to a restaurant to eat dinner.
Conflicting evidence is a likely cause for the lengthy deliberations.
Family members for Jamie Carter said they expect jurors to return a guilty verdict on at least some of the 16 drug charges against Chua.

Chua jury still deliberating

Jurors in the murder and drug trial of Noel Chua have been deliberating more than seven hours, but have still not returned a verdict in the case.
Attorneys for both the prosecution and defense say they are unsure about why jurors have been unable to reach a unanimous verdict in the case.
Jurors have been weighing evidence and conflicting testimony from the weeklong trial. Medical experts for the prosecution argued Chua prescribed drugs to Jamie Carter for no valid medical reason and compared the defendant as a drug dealer.
Attorneys for the defense had medical experts testify Chua followed acceptable medical practices when he prescribed different prescriptions of narcotic pain killers to treat Carter's chronic pain from headaches.
It's unclear how long Judge Amanda Williams will keep jurors deliberating today. In other trials, Williams have kept jurors deliberating late into the night -- sometimes beyond 1 a.m. before adjourning court for the day.
Updates will continue until the jury returns a verdict.

Chua deliberations still ongoing

Six hours into their deliberations, a jury still has not returned a verdict against Noel Chua, a St. Marys doctor accused of prescribing drugs that led to the death of 20-year-old Jamie Carter III on Dec. 15, 2005.
Chua was charged with felony murder by prosecutors who said the drugs prescribed to Carter were for no apparent medical reason. He also faces 16 drug charges for violating the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.
Supporter for Carter's family and Chua have been in the courtroom since 9 a.m., when Judge Amanda Williams gave the jury instructions on how the law applies to each of the criminal charges, all felonies.
If convicted, Chua faces 5 years in prison on each of the individual drug charges and up to life in prison on felony murder.
Updates will continue until the jury reaches a verdict.

Chua jury still deliberating

After five hours of deliberations, jurors still have not returned a verdict in the case against Noel Chua.

The courtroom audience was asked to leave the courtroom at 2:30 p.m. to meet with Judge Amanda Williams and attorneys for the prosecution and defense. The only thing court officials would say about the private meeting is jurors had a procedural question.

It's unclear how long it will take for the jury to reach a verdict. In past trials, Williams has kept juries deliberating late into the night if they are unable to reach a unanimous verdict.

Many people who have watched the trial all week say they don't believe the jury will return a guilty verdict on all the charges against Chua. But few are predicting he will be found not guilty on all 16 drug charges.

Jury foreman selected in Chua trial

Jurors have selected a foreman in the Noel Chua trial. The evidence was sent to jury chambers about 10:30 a.m. Updates will hourly until the jury returns a verdict.

Chua jury begins deliberations

After listening to testimony since Monday, jurors began deliberations this morning in the trial of St. Marys physician Noel Chua.

Prior to sending jurors to their chambers to begin deliberations at 9:45 a.m., Judge Amanda Williams explained how the law applies in each of the 16 drug charges and the felony murder charge against Chua.

Jurors will weigh conflicting evidence and testimony in the drug overdose death of Jamie Carter III, Chua's patient and housemate.

Prosecutors claim the drugs Chua prescribed to Carter for no apparent medical reason led to the 20-year-old man's death on Dec. 15, 2005.

Defense attorneys argued Carter was suffering from chronic headaches and Chua followed medically acceptable practices when he treated his patient.

Updates of the deliberations will be posted hourly until the jury reaches a verdict at the Glynn County Courthouse in Brunswick.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Closing arguments completed

Prosecuting attorney Stephen Kelley described Chua's attempt to hide details of his treatment to Carter "a web of deceit" to mislead investigators.

Chua didn't disclose Carter's past hospitalization or the many prescriptions written to Carter when a coroner arrived the day of the overdose death.

Kelley also accused Chua of fabricating medical records to protect himself after Carter's death.

"All good plans sometimes don't work out,' he said. "He didn't chart all the drugs. Even smart people can't remember this much when it's not documented."

He urged jurors to look at the records, photographs and phone records admitted as evidence.

"There are so many unanswered questions in this case," he said. "It's part of the totality in these circumstances. You decide what that means."

He questioned why Chua never called Carter's family after his death.

"Why not cry with them and say, 'I'm so sorry,'" he said. 'Why not a card? Why not attend the funeral?"

The facts in the case "came back to haunt him," Kelley said of Chua.

"He's guilty of felony murder for prescribing methadone," he said. "Every one of you knows what to do."

Jurors are scheduled to receive their final instructions from Judge Amanda Williams when the trial resumes at 9 a.m. Saturday. Read Saturday's Times-Union for a full account of Friday's proceedings.

Prosecution asks jury for a guilty verdict

District Attorney Stephen Kelley began the prosecution's closing arguments by telling the jury to reach a verdict "that reaches the truth in this case."

"I am here to ask you to convict Noel Chua on the charges against him," Kelley said.

He said the prosecution does not have to prove its case "to a mathematical certainty."

"We only have to come in here and prove to you the elements of all these charges to a reasonable doubt," he said.

He said Chua didn't have to have intent to convict him of murder. Instead, the felony of violating the state controlled substance act by prescribing drugs to Carter for no apparent medical reason led to the murder charge after the victim's overdose death.

Prescribing methadone, oxycodone and morphine intentionally and for not legitimate medical purpose, Chua should be found guilty of felony murder, Kelley said.

"We have to show the defendant intended to prescribe for no legitimate purpose," he said.

Testimony by medical experts said the methadone was enough to kill Carter. Other drugs found in Carter's system Kelley said Chua prescribed to Carter also contributed to the overdose death.

"Under this crime, it's the whole picture," he said. "If it was being sloppy, you could go in my office right now and I'd be guilty."

He said it's time for a jury to determine all the circumstances in the case.

"Only you a jury, the conscience of the community, can tell us what that means," he said.

Kelley said medical experts said drugs prescribed to Carter were "excessive," according to testimony by medical experts during the trial.

There were no evaluations in Carter's medical records to show if they were effective, he told jurors.

He said doctors who don't chart controlled substances are in violation of the law.

He showed jurors drug containers prescribed to Carter not charted in medical records.

Kelley continued to stack pain medications prescribed to Carter on a table in front of jurors, including nasal sprays, pills and patches.

But, it's not just about the medications, he told the jury.

He said Carter's parents didn't know when Chua hospitalized Carter in November 2005 for questionable reasons.

Carter was given enough morphine for a patient recovering from "major medical surgery," during his hospitalization.

"It's off the charts," he said. "Who was going to know? It was just Dr. Chua and Jamie Carter having a good time."

Chua ignored a nurse's concerns Carter was a drug seeker when he asked for specific narcotic pain medications in the hospital.

"This visit [to the hospital] was just a fabrication," he said. "It was just pushing drugs."