A former Oklahoma City doctor accused of overprescribing medication that led to the death of eight patients told an Oklahoma County judge on Thursday that he had no money to hire an attorney.
William Martin Valuck, 71, was then assigned a public defender.
It was the first court appearance for Valuck since he was charged earlier this month with nine counts of first-degree murder and 72 counts of illegal distribution of a controlled dangerous substance.
The former osteopathic physician and surgeon is accused of prescribing excessive amounts of painkillers, anxiety drugs and muscle relaxers, which led to fatal drug overdoses of eight patients, and prescribing drugs for a ninth patient who caused a fatal car crash.
Where's the money?
Valuck told Special Judge Susan Johnson that he had made between $150,000 and $200,000 a year practicing medicine, but that money was spent running and then closing his southwest Oklahoma City clinic.
He said that he receives about $900 a month in Social Security benefits, and that the lawyers he had contacted wanted a substantial sum to represent him.
Valuck also said that he still owes $375,000 in restitution from a previous conviction in Texas.
Chief Public Defender Bob Ravitz appeared on Valuck's behalf in court, and said his office would represent the former doctor if the state cannot locate assets to be used for legal representation.
Valuck was arrested Dec. 27 at his Kilgore, Texas, home. He is being held without bail in the Oklahoma County jail.
A preliminary hearing in the case is set for Feb. 26.