A North Huntingdon family doctor charged with over-prescribing drugs to two patients who died from overdoses in 2016 may not be competent to stand trial, his lawyer said in court documents filed Tuesday.
Dr. Michel Toret, 72, of Jeannette is awaiting trial on two charges of drug delivery resulting in death in connection with the fatal overdoses of Heather Dervin, 26, of North Huntingdon, who died Sept. 6, 2016; and Glenn Morgan, 30, of Level Green, who died a month later on Oct. 10, 2016.
Defense attorney Michael DeRiso said in the court filing he suspects Toret’s mental condition has steadily deteriorated since his arrest two years ago based on two recent meetings in which he and the doctor’s family observed problems amid moments of apparent lucidity.
“During the meetings defendant has seemed not to fully understand the questions posed by counsel and further, has been unable to answer to the satisfaction of counsel questions posed related to the charges,” DeRiso wrote.
Westmoreland County Common Pleas Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio authorized DeRiso to have Toret privately evaluated to determine whether he can stand trial, which is scheduled to begin next month. Toret is free on $5,000 unsecured bond.
Investigators claim Toret overprescribed methadone, a drug given to heroin users to wean them from addiction, to Dervin; and the painkiller oxymorphone to Morgan.
Toret, who was a doctor for more than four decades, surrendered his license to practice medicine in November 2016 as investigators probed his prescribing habits after the overdoses.
He is one of two doctors in the county charged with drug delivery resulting in death related to prescriptions.
Dr. Edgar Peske, 80, of Hempfield pleaded no contest to the charge earlier this month and faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced by Common Pleas Judge Tim Krieger.