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Coalinga dentist avoids prison after causing son's death

Monday, June 25, 2012

Coalinga police are questioning whether justice was served when a dentist avoided prison time for causing the death of his mentally challenged son in his own dentist's chair. Action News broke the story last year as police investigated the case.

Patrick Clare, 35, died of an overdose of valium and morphine -- a drug his father was not licensed to possess or administer. 14 months after the incident, prosecutors charged Dr. Allen Clare with unlawfully practicing dentistry and causing his son's death. But the 68-year-old won't do any time for the felony, and investigators on the case are very upset.

Dr. Allen Clare walked out of a Fresno County courtroom a free man Monday, despite admitting to causing the death of his mentally challenged son.

Coalinga police found Patrick Clare dead on his father's dentist's chair in this office last April.

Court documents show Dr. Clare had administered a heavy -- and ultimately lethal -- dosage of morphine and valium.

"His actions were the direct cause, based on the coroner's report, of Patrick Clare's death and it's that simple," said Coalinga police Chief Cal Minor.

Police wanted murder charges, but more than a year later, prosecutors decided it wasn't so simple and filed lesser charges.

The doctor's defense attorney says his client had no intention of killing his son. In fact, Mark Broughton says it all started because Patrick had a badly abscessed tooth. He went to the hospital the day before his death, but walked out before getting treatment.

"So his dad was in a position where he had to give him some emergency attention and his son wouldn't calm down in the chair which was the reason for, in part, the administering of some sedatives," Broughton said.

But Minor says it was a deliberate act by a dentist who wasn't even allowed to use morphine. He says the lack of accountability has made his department a target of ridicule.

"Just last week, one of my officers was in a local grocery store and was confronted by a citizen making fun of this department and made the statement, 'Oh, you let murderers walk around in this town?'"

Broughton says Dr. Clare no longer wants to practice dentistry because of the incident. He'll give up his license and serve three years of probation as part of his plea agreement.

(Copyright ©2014 KFSN-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

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crimetracker, court, coalinga, fresno county, fresno, local, corin hoggard
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