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Witness recalls kin's addiction to prescription drugs

June 19, 2012 |  7:16 pm

Elissa Ogle begged her brother-in-law to stop using prescription drugs.

She took his pills and locked them in a box under her bed. She hid the knobs on the kitchen stove after he fell asleep while cooking, intoxicated by his narcotic pain medication.

“Steven, stop, please, stop!” Ogle said she told her brother-in-law, Steven Ogle. She recalled him responding: “My doctor prescribed to me, my doctor prescribed to me.”

Ogle testified Tuesday at a preliminary hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence for Dr. Hsiu-Ying “Lisa" Tseng to stand trial on second-degree murder charges in connection with the overdose deaths of Steven Ogle and two other men.

Tseng has pleaded not guilty.

In the 11th day of testimony in downtown Los Angeles, Ogle described visits to Tseng’s storefront clinic in Rowland Heights, where she drove Steven three times from Palm Desert before he died of an overdose in 2009 at age 24.

The waiting room, she said, was filled with young patients who “looked drugged out or sedated…like they took a lot of medication or they smoked something.”

During one visit, Ogle testified, she went into a restroom while waiting for Steven. She described the room as “smoky” and said there was a needle in the garbage can. She left the office and waited for her brother-in-law in her car because she was so disturbed, she said.

Prosecution witnesses have said Tseng prescribed her patients addictive narcotics despite warning signs that they were abusing drugs. Prosecutors allege that Tseng knew her prescribing practices were harmful and that she knew patients were dying under her care.

When Deputy Dist. Atty. John Niedermann showed Ogle a copy of one of Steven’s prescriptions from Tseng, Ogle broke down in tears. The last time she saw Steven alive –- after he had been fighting with family members over his addiction and his visits to doctors -- he had a pill bottle in his pocket, and she could hear his pills rattling, she said.

Tseng also is charged with the overdose deaths of Vu Nguyen, 28, of Lake Forest, and Joey Rovero, 21, an Arizona State University student from San Ramon, Calif. Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.

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--Hailey Branson-Potts

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