|Prosecution Witness: Dr. John Becker|
|Written by Mike Mayleben|
|Friday, 06 May 2011 18:40|
Direct Exam: Travis Vieux
He is a dentist in Ft. Thomas, Ky. and Sarah Widmer was his dental hygienist. She started working for him in July 2006. She was very meticulous about keeping her area clean and wore latex gloves while working on patients. She was friendly and outgoing with her patients and her co-workers and was a good employee who didn't take sick days very often. If an employee missed a lot of work, it created a burden for the other people in the office, but between 2006-2008, she rarely missed work.
Sarah worked full time and benefits were available for her, including life insurance. Becker said he talked to her about getting life insurance in the spring/summer of 2006, but at that time she declined. After she got married, she expressed an interest in getting life insurance.
He would have allowed Sarah to take time off to be with her sick father, but he doesn't recall her taking a lot of time off. When she started working for him her hours were 8 to 5 Monday - Thursday, but her hours changed when she moved to Warren County. She worked 7 to 4 on Mondays and Wednesdays and asked to skip lunch. Tuesdays and Thursdays she worked 8 to 5 with a lunch break. He saw Sarah when she arrived at 7:00 a.m. for work and he didn't recall that she was ever late. He had patients who started arriving at 7:00 a.m. During lunch, she would go to her car and take a nap, but he wasn't aware of her sleeping in her car in the morning.
He never saw her fall asleep while with a patient or in the middle of conversations, and she never seemed overly tired or complained of chronic headaches. There were one or two occasions when she had to sit in a dark room due to a migraine but that never interfered with her work.
He said she occasionally complained of stomachaches, but they didn't appear to be a chronic problem and the headaches and stomachaches never affected her work duties. She complained of seasonal allergies, but that never affected her work, either.
He never saw Sarah have any problems holding items, or using dental tools and he didn't recall her complaining of heart problems or shortness of breath. She never had a seizure or complained of dizziness and he never had any complaints about her from patients.
He met Ryan during one or two annual office Christmas parties at his house. He didn't see anything that concerned him about their relationship but he was aware that Sarah didn't care for Ryan’s smoking and beer drinking.
Sarah was also a patient at the office and she had noted on her patient medical form that she had a heart murmur but she didn't have any concerns about it now. Becker said, with a heart murmur , dental procedures can cause bacterial infections so he would give a patient antibiotics before a dental procedure. She told him she had the heart murmur as a baby but it seemed to have disappeared as she grew into adulthood. Nothing further.
Cross Exam: Lindsey Gutierrez
Gutierrez began by asking if Sarah's medical form was self-reporting and Becker agreed that Sarah filled out the record on a computer at the office. She then handed him a copy of the computer print out. It was an exercise for employees to fill out when the office had new software installed, Becker said. He assumed Sarah filled it out because she and another doctor at the office were the only two who had access to the software, but since it wasn't signed he couldn't be certain. He agreed that on the form, Sarah entered that she bruised easily.
He said she had been complaining continuously about stomach pains for about five or six months before she died, but didn't take a lot of sick days. He said no patients complained about Sarah being tired or sleepy. He saw no indication that she was sad or depressed; she was always bubbly and cheerful. Gutierrez asked if other than the drinking and smoking, Sarah and Ryan seemed happy? Becker replied "Yes".
On the day she died, he recalled that she complained of a sore throat and a headache. Sarah and Patty Kroger, another employee, were very close. He agreed that she didn't have life insurance at the time of her death. She often wore tank tops during the summer, but he never noticed any bruising or scratching on her. Nothing further.
Re-Direct: Travis Vieux
Vieux asked about the form which he said was never signed by Sarah. Becker said the document was prepared during a training exercise with a new software program in 2007. It seems completely filled out, except for the field, "additional comments" but it's not part of Sarah's medical records, Becker said. Patty Kroger printed the form without his permission and she released the record without permission of the patient. He never used those records and he didn't know the accuracy of any of it.
When asked if he noticed if Sarah bruised easily, he said "No". He also said there was no indication in her medical records that she bruised easily. Nothing further.
Re-Cross: Lindsey Gutierrez
Becker agreed that the form is a bubble fill-in type form, and he agreed there were only three bubbles filled in as "yes"; for a heart murmur, sinus problems and bruises easily. Nothing further.