Benoit’s doctor faces federal charges

Tue, 07/03/2007 - 4:01pm
By: John Munford

The personal doctor for Chris Benoit has officially been linked to prescribing a large amount of anabolic steroids to the pro wrestler, who police believe killed his wife and son, then himself at their Fayette County home June 23-25.

Dr. Phil Astin of Carrollton pled not guilty to federal charges that he prescribed medicine for other persons with undated prescriptions despite a lack in medical need. According to a federal affidavit in that case, Astin had prescribed Benoit on average a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids every three to four weeks from May 4, 2006 to May 9, 2007.

“Dr. Astin allegedly prescribed such drugs like candy,” said U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias said.

The affidavit, filed by Anissa M. Jones of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, also stated that Benoit also had been identified as “an excessive purchaser of injectable steroids,” in a pending federal case being prosecuted in Georgia of a company called Rx Weight Loss.

Police are still waiting on toxicology reports to confirm whether any of the Benoits were impaired by alcohol or drugs when they died.

Nancy Benoit’s body was found in a family room upstairs, bound at the hands and ankles, and she had been choked with a coaxial cable, authorities have said.

Daniel Benoit, 7, was found in his upstairs bedroom and had apparently been choked to death by his father, according to Fayette County District Attorney Scott Ballard.

Bibles had been placed next to the bodies of Nancy and Daniel Benoit, officials said.

Lt. Tommy Pope, who is heading up the investigation for the Fayette County Sheriff’s Department, said there is no rush to get the results from the toxicology reports because police are not looking for another suspect in the case. Ballard has said all evidence indicates that Chris Benoit killed his wife and son, and then himself.

A funeral service has been scheduled for July 14 in Daytona, Fla. for Nancy and Daniel Benoit. Separate arrangements are being made for Chris Benoit’s service and a burial in Canada, but details were not available at press time.

Pope said officials have cleared the anonymous poster who edited an online encyclopedia entry to say that Chris Benoit missed the WWE event due to his wife’s death.

The entry was posted on Wikipedia about 14 hours before police checked the Benoit home and found the bodies, but the poster said in a statement that the posting was merely coincidental and initially based on rumor.

The posting came from a computer in Stamford, Conn., which is also the home of World Wrestling Entertainment, Benoit’s employer.

In 2003, Nancy Benoit hired local attorney Joe Saia to seek a protective order against her husband and also file a divorce petition on her behalf. Saia said Nancy Benoit appeared genuinely afraid of her husband when she first met with him.

Chris Benoit had thrown some things around in their Peachtree City home where they lived at the time, but he had not hurt Nancy Benoit, Saia noted.

Saia said his client felt afraid enough to leave the room and the couple’s home at the time Chris Benoit damaged items in the house.

Nancy Benoit told Saia that her husband would often fly into a rage for no reason.

“He’d just get in these bad moods and destroy things,” Saia said.

The resulting divorce and temporary protective proceedings were both later dropped as the couple reconciled.

Saia recalled seeing Chris and Nancy Benoit holding hands in the parking lot of the courthouse minutes before the court filings were dropped.

“I did not know he was capable of killing, but I do know he was capable of deep-seated anger,” Saia said.

Saia recalled Nancy Benoit as a personable woman who was very close with her son Daniel, who Saia remembered as a “cute little kid.”

“She was just a really caring person and a great parent,” Saia said.

The WWE released the contents of text messages sent from the Benoit’s cell phones to WWE co-workers, some of which only mentioned the home’s physical address and another that referenced the presence of the family’s dogs and that a side door to the home was left unlocked.

Nancy Benoit initially filed for a temporary protective order that, for a while, kept her husband from seeing her and the couple’s then-3-year-old son Daniel.

At the time of the court action between the Benoits, Chris Benoit was on the road three or four days a week, Saia said.

After hearing the news of the tragic killings, Saia said he felt broken up and “somewhat responsible,” for the Benoits’ deaths.

“She was my client,” Saia said. “I wondered if there was anything else I could have done.”

Saia said he and Chris Benoit’s attorney made the couple promise to get professional counseling.

Saia said Nancy Benoit had the means to leave Chris Benoit if she needed to, but ultimately the couple reconciled their differences.

“My heart goes out to their family,” Saia said. “It’s just sad, so sad.”

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