Friday, September 29, 2023 – A doctor charged in the poisoning death of his wife allegedly once gave her so many painkillers that she hallucinated frogs crawling across her bedroom walls, the woman’s daughter testified in Manhattan court on Thursday.
Dr. Jeffrey Harris, 59, of Washington state is standing trial for manslaughter in Manhattan Supreme Court five years after his wife of 11 years died at Lenox Hill Hospital in February 2018 during a visit to New York City, in what was later ruled a homicide.
An autopsy found that Tammy Harris, 55, had fatally overdosed on the dietary supplement Selenium, which prosecutors said were fed to her by her doctor husband who was allegedly dosing her with a cocktail of drugs in an attempt to treat mysterious aches and pains she began experiencing in 2017.
“There was one night where Jeff had given mom so much pain medication that she started seeing frogs jumping on her walls in the bedroom,” Tammy’s 41-year-old daughter from a previous marriage, Sarah Hopkins-Hubbard, testified Thursday, September 28, on the second day of trial.
Though numerous doctors diagnosed Tammy with lupus, Jeffrey, who specialized in internal medicine, refused to believe the determination and began treating her himself allegedly directly leading to her death on Feb. 28, 2018, prosecutors said.
Hopkins-Hubbard, who lives in Oregon, testified in horrifying detail how her mother’s health deteriorated but even after a stint in a Spokane hospital, Jeffrey refused to give her proper treatment and kept up a steady regiment of homeopathic remedies.
“Mom had been yellow and turning orange for about three weeks. The yellowing-orange color was just getting worse,” she said, explaining Tammy had lost so much weight she weighed only around 100 pounds.
Her gums, Hopkins-Hubbard, said, “were starting to turn black.”
In response, Jeffrey allegedly put her on a treatment of 20 cilantro pills per day, among other drugs, because he didn’t think a hospital could take proper care of his wife, his stepdaughter testified.
“You couldn’t count how many pills [I was administering her],” Hopkins-Hubbard told the jury, adding that Jeffrey’s behavior baffled her.
“I’m obviously concerned. He’s a doctor — and I’m living with them. And you come up to him like, ‘Why would you give her so much that she would hallucinate?’ Like, knowing you’re a doctor and knowing how much to prescribe when it becomes dangerous. I just don’t understand.”
Jeffrey and Tammy, who were married for 11 years, eventually travelled to the Big Apple in early 2018, searching for an alternative medicine practice to expand her treatment.
The group they found, the Salerno Center, even advised against the dosage of Selenium Jeffrey was giving his wife, prosecutors said.
During the trip, Tammy fell unconscious at their hotel, and Jeffrey rushed her to the hospital.
Her death was ruled a homicide in 2019 with the Medical Examiner’s Office finding she had 10-times the recommended dosage of Selenium in her system, according to prosecutors.
In November 2021, Jeffrey was indicted on a count of manslaughter in the second degree.
Prosecutors alleged that Tammy’s condition was perfectly treatable, but that Jeffrey “recklessly caused” her death through his attempts to cure her.
The case continues.