Dr. James Ryan, a 50-year-old oral surgeon from Maryland, has been found guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his girlfriend, Sarah Harris, 25. Harris was discovered dead in their Montgomery County residence in January 2022, surrounded by numerous pill bottles. The autopsy report revealed that Harris died from an overdose of ketamine and diazepam.
During the trial, Montgomery County Assistant State’s Attorney Jennifer Harrison argued that Ryan, a seasoned oral surgeon, was fully aware of the dangers of the drugs he was providing to Harris. Despite witnessing her health decline, Ryan continued to supply Harris with these lethal anesthetic drugs over time. Harrison stated that each time Ryan gave Harris these drugs, it was as if a part of her was dying, until eventually, the drugs took her life.
The police were initially called to the couple’s home on January 26, 2022, following reports of an overdose. Upon arrival, they found Harris dead and discovered drug bottles, needles, syringes, and tourniquets typically used in medical settings. Montgomery County Police Chief Marcus Jones announced Ryan’s arrest in a press conference in March 2022.
Ryan’s defense attorney, Thomas DeGonia, contended that Harris had taken the drugs willingly to alleviate her depression. He suggested that her death could have been a suicide or an accidental overdose, noting that her brother had died just months before her.
Harris and Ryan first met in October 2020 at Ryan’s practice, Evolution Oral Surgery, during Harris’ wisdom-tooth extraction. Ryan later offered Harris a job at his office, and the two began a romantic relationship around the start of 2021. They moved in together in late summer 2021.
Harris’ physical health noticeably deteriorated over the course of their relationship, causing concern among her friends and family. On two separate occasions, Harris was found at home surrounded by empty medicine bottles. Text messages obtained by the police revealed that Harris frequently asked Ryan to bring home drugs and drug paraphernalia, and Ryan would advise her on how to use certain drugs for maximum effect.
Ryan now faces a maximum sentence of 55 years for second-degree murder and other charges.