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Dentist convicted of killing three patients is granted parole

June 24, 2011 |  8:45 am

A former Costa Mesa dentist convicted of killing three patients in his care can be released from prison, an appellate court has ruled.

A state Court of Appeal reinstated parole for Tony Protopappas, 66, late Wednesday, overturning Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's December decision to block a parole board recommendation to let Protopappas go, the Daily Pilot reported.

Protopappas was convicted of three counts of second-degree murder 26 years ago for killing three people in his dentist's chair during the early 1980s. In each case, he gave lethal doses of a general anesthetic and ignored numerous warning signs that their lives were in jeopardy. He was sentenced to 15 years to life and has been in prison ever since.

On Tuesday, a panel of judges from the 4th Appellate District's 3rd Division heard oral arguments challenging Schwarzenegger's decision.

Protopappas does not pose a threat to society, the court said.

Protopappas has served 26 years of his sentence for the death of Kim Andreassen, 23, Cathryn Jones, 31, and Patricia Craven, 13, who all died from fatal overdoses of general anesthetic.

Protopappas is eligible for release from Folsom prison in about two weeks, his attorney said. He will not be allowed to practice dentistry.

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-- Lauren Williams, Times community News

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