Jailed surgeon blames ex-wife in poisoning

Aug. 2, 2009 at 3:48 PM
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BUFFALO, N.Y., Aug. 2 (UPI) -- A former New York cosmetic surgeon jailed for trying to poison his wife now says arsenic was found in her system because she was trying to kill herself.

In a legal brief filed last week by Anthony Pignataro as part of a bid to overturn his 2001 conviction, the former surgeon told the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that his ex-wife, Deborah, was suicidal, The Buffalo (N.Y.) News reported Sunday.

"With my medical knowledge, coupled with her history of suicide attempts and drug abuse, had petition(er) even thought about harming my wife, he certainly would not have chosen arsenic," Pignataro wrote.

"He's never taken responsibility for his actions," Deborah Pignataro told the newspaper, declining to further discuss her ex-husband except to add he needs psychological help.

The prosecutor who won the conviction and 15-year prison term for Pignataro, Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita, ridiculed the surgeon's petition.

"Oh, poor Anthony," Sedita told the News. "He's brilliant and so misunderstood. What a crime, he has been persecuted. It was a conspiracy by the jealous medical community afraid of his advanced surgical techniques, the legal community that wants to hang a doctor out to dry and the media looking for a sensational story."

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