CHICAGO (CN) – The 7th Circuit upheld the conviction and death sentence of a foot doctor who murdered a patient to keep her from testifying against him.
A jury convicted Ronald Mikos of shooting and killing Joyce Brannon, who had agreed to cooperate with investigators in a case accusing Mikos of fraudulently billing Medicare for thousands of bogus surgeries. The podiatrist was accused of performing routine procedures, such as trimming patients’ toenails, but billing the government for major surgeries.
The evidence against him was strong. He kept several guns at a storage unit, including a .22-caliber revolver – the same type of gun that killed Brannon. It was the only gun missing after the crime. Police later found a box of matching ammunition in Mikos’ car, along with a bottle of gray hair dye. A witness allegedly saw a gray-haired intruder entering a church, where Brannon lived, on the day of the murder.
Mikos was convicted of killing Brannon to keep her from testifying – a capital offense. He appealed, challenging how federal agents had executed the search warrant at his storage unit and claiming that the prosecutor violated his Fifth Amendment right.
The court said the evidence and Mikos’ apparent lack of remorse were the reason he stood condemned. “The facts of this cold-blooded execution of a potential witness dominate,” Judge Easterbrook wrote.
In a partial dissented, Judge Posner agreed to uphold the defendant’s conviction, but said he is entitled to a new death-penalty hearing.