A woman from Idaho weighed just 70lbs when she died and had lost both her hair and fingernails before she died a ‘tremendously painful’ death in hospital in New York City.
Tammy Harris, 55, had been taking dietary supplements but her husband of 11 years who was also a doctor, Jeffrey Harris, 57, is now on trial for her death with prosecutors alleging he interfered with the amounts and types of medicine she was taking.
On Friday, Harris pleaded not guilty to second-degree manslaughter for allegedly killing his wife three years ago by administering toxic amounts of Selenium.
Dr. Jeffrey Harris, 57, has been charged with second-degree manslaughter for allegedly killing his wife, Tammy Harris, 55, pictured, three years ago
Selenium is a trace mineral and typically used as a dietary supplement.
While it is typically safe in small doses, it can cause health issues including hair loss, kidney failure and ‘in rare cases, death,’ according to the National Institutes of Health.
The couple had supposedly come from Moscow, Idaho to New York City for Tammy to receive treatment for what her doctors believed was lupus, when she suddenly collapsed at the hotel where she was staying.
The pair had come to the city search for a holistic doctor when Tammy collapsed onto the floor at the Lott New York Palace hotel. She died six days later.
During an autopsy by the city Medical Examiner, eight times the average amount of Selenium was found in Tammy Harris’ system.
Doctor Harris is alleged to have administered toxic amounts of the dietary supplement Selenium which ultimately caused the death of his wife
Harris’ starved condition was ‘not something you typically see in wealthier nations,’ Assistant District Attorney Victoria Meyer said on Friday.
Her slow demise began in 2017 when husband and physician, Jeffrey Harris, started giving his wife a host of ‘alternative’ medicine which ‘worsened her health problems’, Meyer explained in court.
Harris is alleged to have given her the medication despite advice from doctors and hospital staff not to do so.
Dr. Harris refused to listen to advice from his wive’s doctors and began dosing her with Selenium supplements.
‘He insisted that her true affliction was mercury poisoning due to having worked at a dental office several years prior,’ prosecutor Meyer said.
But prosecutors see it differently and say her husband ‘sneaked in alternative medication’ and ‘cheated doctors’ by pretending that she was taking what she had been prescribed.
Eventually doctors caught wind of what was happening telling Harris to ‘be a husband’ rather than her doctor.
While Selenium is considered safe in small doses and can be used as a dietary supplement, it can cause a variety of health issues from hair loss to kidney failure to ‘in rare cases death’
Yet Harris is alleged to have ignored the suggestions and used his own medical license in order to continue to write prescriptions for medication she did not require.
Harris is currently being held on a $300,000 bond.
The judge asked why second-degree manslaughter charges were brought rather than murder.
Meyer, prosecuting, explained that Harris’ sincere belief that his wife suffered mercury poisoning as a result of her job, saw him spared the more serious murder charge.
Tammy Harris’ son said he is convinced that Jeffrey Harris loved his mother despite her death.
‘I have no doubt that Jeff loved my mom incredibly,’ said Joshua Hubbard, 38, to the Daily News. ‘He loved her deeply, almost to a fault. I do not believe that he intended to hurt her in any way.
‘Nothing is going to get my mother back. I have a lot of compassion for Jeff and I don’t know that I hold any anger against him. I would just like to see some closure on this so we don’t have to keep bringing it up and hashing it out,’ he continued.
‘He was a physician. He thought he could cure my mother, and what he was doing was wrong. It was a very confusing time … Incredibly weird.’