COSTA MESA — 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 late Wednesday reinstated parole for Tony Protopappas, 66. The court order overturned Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's December decision to block a parole board recommendation to let Protopappas go, said the dentist's attorney, Rich Pfeiffer.
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, according to Daily Pilot archives. 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.