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A former Nevada physician accused of killing his wife with antifreeze nearly six years ago took a plea deal this week, avoiding the death penalty, officials said.
Dr. Gregory “Brent” Dennis, 59, pleaded guilty to using a deadly cocktail of prescription painkillers and antifreeze to fatally poison his wife, Susan Winters in 2015, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
According to officials, Clark County prosecutors and Dennis’ legal team struck a deal this month and agreed to a sentence of three to 10 years behind bars.
Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, which slowed down county court proceedings, prosecutors had been prepared to head to trial in Winters’ murder, the newspaper reported. However, Dennis ultimately entered an Alford plea, meaning he agreed that prosecutors had gathered enough evidence to prove his guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, according to the Associated Press.
“For him it was all or nothing — he goes to trial, jury convicts him, he goes to prison for the absolute rest of his life,” Clark County prosecutor Marc DiGiacomo said after the case’s hearing on Tuesday.
DiGiacomo, who described the state’s case against Dennis “highly complex,” added that prosecutors had compiled plenty of “circumstantial pieces of evidence.” He said Dennis’ sentence is a “fairly reasonable solution.”
“For me, I’m looking at a 60-year-old man, and what is justice,” DiGiacomo added.
On Jan. 3, 2015, Winters died in hospital after ingesting a deadly concoction of antifreeze and prescription painkillers at the couple’s Henderson home, according to a probable cause statement obtained by Oxygen.com. Her death was first ruled a suicide, but a county coroner later updated her manner of death to be “undetermined.” At the time of her death, Winters was a part-time judge in Las Vegas.
Law enforcement later that discovered Dennis, who had an expensive cocaine habit, had misled investigators and stood to inherit $2 million dollars in the event of his wife’s demise; the couple was reportedly on the verge of separation at the time of her death.
In 2017, the Nevada doctor was arrested on murder charges in his wife’s death.
Investigators stated Dennis had scoured the internet around the time of his wife’s death, searching for information on how long after poisoning someone using antifreeze it would take the victim to die.
On the day of Winters’ murder, prosecutors also said Dennis failed to call emergency responders after his wife took the antifreeze mixture until she stopped breathing. He then signed a do-not-resuscitate order after she’d been hospitalized. Days after his wife’s death, the Nevada psychologist deposited a $180,000 check from her bank account into his own bank account, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported. The check had been issued after a call to the bank from Dennis' cellphone the night before his wife died.
He later told a friend he'd moved the money because "he knew that when she died that her parents would freeze that account," DiGiacomo added.
“The problem for Mr. Dennis is he knew some nine hours before her death that she was going to be dead,” DiGiacomo added.
Dennis is scheduled to be sentenced on May 10 in Clark County District Court, according to the Associated Press. He’s been out since 2017 on a $250,000 bail, which the 59-year-old former psychologist posted shortly after his arrest.
“Brent Dennis resolved this case without making any admission of guilt in order to eventually return his life to normalcy,” his defense attorney Richard Schonfeld said in a statement to the Las Vegas Sun.
Schonfeld wasn’t immediately available to comment on the open case when contacted by Oxygen.com on Thursday.
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