SANTA ANA (CBS) — A former Orange County dentist who served nearly three decades in prison for killing three patients is a free man on Wednesday — and his lawyer is claiming a victory for the taxpayers of California.

Tony Protopappas, 63, who was convicted of second-degree murder in 1984 and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison for distributing irregular doses of anesthesia and other medicine to patients in the early 1980s.

His victims included 9-year-old Patricia Craven, 23-year-old Kim Andreassen and 31-year-old Cathryn Jones.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa reports Protopappas’ attorney Richard Pfeiffer claims the state attorney general’s office delayed his client’s release for several days.

“There are a lot of life inmates now who are being rehabilitated and going home,” said Pfeiffer. “I don’t want them all to have to spend an extra week in prison.”

Pfeiffer said he is still awaiting word on whether the Fourth District appellate court will consider holding prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office in contempt of court for keeping Protopappas in prison past Thursday.

“I don’t want the public to have to support that at this time of fiscal crisis in California especially, and it’s not fair for anybody to spend one extra day in prison,” said Pfeiffer.

In a motion filed Friday, Pfeiffer asked for the prosecutors in Protopappas’ case to be sent to jail.

Protopappas, meanwhile, said he plans to work in a dental lab after his release.


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