Midland Daily News
New York Psychiatrist Pleads Guilty
April 23, 2002

Psychiatrist James Watt

Psychiatrist James Watt

A psychiatrist whose “gas therapy” killed a patient last year pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide and agreed to stop practicing medicine in a deal that will keep him out prison.

James Watt, 73, admitted that he caused the death of Leah Grove, 38, in his office on April 19, 2001. In exchange for pleading guilty Tuesday and giving up his medical license, Watt got a sentence of conditional discharge, a form of court-supervised probation.

Watt had been treating Grove for mild depression.

His plea statement, read by State Supreme Court Justice Charles Solomon, said he gave Grove what he called “carbon dioxide inhalation therapy” in his Midtown Manhattan office.

He said she inhaled a mix of carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and oxygen from an anesthesiology machine he made, and she went into cardiac arrest.

“I did not take adequate steps to resuscitate Ms. Grove, nor did I have adequate resuscitation equipment on the premises,” his statement said.

She lapsed into a coma and died less than a month later.

Watt’s lawyer, Neal Comer, did not return calls for comment.


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James Watt