The courtroom gasped. The accused showed no emotion. The judge made his ruling clear: Kansas doctor Steven Henson was getting life in prison for distributing prescription drugs that took a patient's life, NBC News reports. Found guilty in October on charges including conspiracy to distribute prescription drugs outside a medical practice and unlawfully distributing multiple drugs, the 57-year-old was sentenced Friday for the 2015 death of Nick McGovern. A Henson patient, he died from an overdose of alprazolam, which quells anxiety, and methadone, which helps get patients off heroin. "I have sentenced people to life before," said Judge J. Thomas Marten, per the Wichita Eagle. "They were people who took guns and shot people."
Seems Henson sold pain-medication prescriptions for $300 a pop to help pay for his office rent. He is also accused of falsifying records, laundering money, and obstructing justice; the court heard he carried a handgun "because of the clientele he deals with" and drank scotch when meeting them, per the Eagle. But Henson's attorney plans to appeal, saying McGovern took more pills than prescribed. US Attorney Stephen McAllister is calling this a victory in the war against opioids, which led to 378 cases resolved against criminally accused doctors through 2016. "We are dealing with an epidemic," said McAllister, per CNN. "Nationwide, more than 70,000 Americans died in 2017 from drug overdoses. That is more than all the American casualties during the war in Vietnam." (Read more opioids stories.)