FOLSOM, Calif. (AP) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has rejected parole for a Southern California man who killed three of his dental patients in the 1980s by administering fatal doses of a general anesthetic, the man's attorney said Thursday.
Schwarzenegger made the decision on Dec. 15 even though a panel of appellate court judges and a state parole board favored release for Tony Protopappas, attorney Rich Pfeiffer told the AP.
In late 1983 and early 1984, Protopappas gave fatal doses of a general anesthetic to Kim Andreassen, 23; Cathryn Jones, 31; and Patricia Craven, 13, in his Costa Mesa office.
Protopappas was using narcotics at the time and wasn't licensed to administer the drug.
Protopappas, 65, has served more than 25 years of his 15 years-to-life sentence for three counts of second-degree murder. A proposition passed by California voters in 1988 gives the governor the power to reverse parole decisions in murder cases.
The governor's decision wasn't a surprise, Pfeiffer said. The attorney plans to file another petition with the state's Fourth District Court of Appeal to overturn Schwarzenegger's ruling.
The state's parole board denied parole for Protopappas in 2008. Pfeiffer appealed that decision and the appeals court ruled in March that the former dentist should be freed unless prosecutors could prove he was still a danger to society.
The parole board granted Protopappas his freedom in July.
Protopappas has been a model prisoner and assists in the prison's dental lab, where dentists have praised his talent, Pfeiffer said.
"Here's the thing: He's not a risk because his crime evolved out of being a licensed dentist, which he'll never be again," Pfeiffer said.