At 6 a.m., as her neighbors head for Starbucks, Dr. Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo heads for work at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. On Jan. 27, the world-renowned breast cancer specialist made time for coffee, preparing a cup in her townhouse for her colleague Dr. George Blumenschein Jr. When he said the brew was too sweet, Gonzalez-Angulo responded that she'd mixed in Splenda and told him to finish the cup. She then made him another cup, this one also too sweet for his liking. Within four hours, Blumenschein later told police, he "started having slurred speech, loss of balance and motor skills." Sixteen hours after that, he was in an ER, his kidneys in failure.
On May 29, Gonzalez-Angulo, 42, a "woman dedicated to saving lives," as one colleague puts it, was charged with felony aggravated assault. Her weapon of choice, court records allege: ethylene glycol, a sweet-tasting chemical found in hospitals - and antifreeze. Her alleged motive is harder to identify. In Houston medical circles, it's old gossip that the divorced Gonzalez-Angulo and Blumenschein, 49, were having what police called a "casual sexual relationship." It's also no secret that Blumenschein lives with his longtime girlfriend, to whom, says a source close to the case, "Dr. Blumenschein apparently had been engaged at the time of the alleged poisoning."
Whether those facts do - or don't - add up, Gonzalez-Angulo's attorney Derek Hollingsworth insists, "Dr. Gonzalez-Angulo is completely innocent." And her patients? "She's been a great doctor," says Bertha Bejarano, 47. "I'd like to see her again soon."
- Reported by Ken Lee,
- Anne Lang.