By all accounts, Ana Maria Gonzalez-Angulo was a respected oncologist.
Known for her extensive medical knowledge and kind demeanor, the 43-year-old, who was born in Colombia, worked hard to become a prominent doctor at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. She worked closely with Dr. George Blumenschein, a buttoned-down oncologist, who was also highly respected in his field.
But, according to prosecutors, these two mild-mannered doctors began a secret affair – and became embroiled in a love triangle that nearly ended in tragedy.
On Jan. 27, 2013, after feeling ill all day, Blumenschein checked into the hospital. The results shocked him: He had been poisoned with ethylene glycerol, a sweet-tasting chemical commonly found in antifreeze.
His thoughts immediately went to Gonzalez-Angulo. Earlier that day, she had given him a cup of sickeningly sweet coffee; he believed that she had spiked it with poison.
In court on Friday, Blumenschein took the stand to discuss the affair he began with Gonzalez-Angulo in 2011.
According to his testimony, things started off slowly, with Gonzalez-Angulo kissing his neck and sitting on his lap. Then, according to Blumenschein, the relationship became sexual during a business trip to Sweden in the fall of that year.
“She started to kiss me on my neck. I remember what she said; she said ‘I’m going to eat your ear,’ ” he testified. “I remember this because it was so unexpected. I didn’t want to offend her and I didn’t know what to do.”
“It was hard to tell her ‘No,’ ” he continued. ” ‘No’ does not mean ‘no’ to her.”
Blumenschein admits that he began an affair with his colleague, even though he was living with his longtime girlfriend, Evette Toney.
“I cheated on Evette,” he testified. “I was wrong; it was the wrong thing to do.”
A Heated Affair
As the affair heated up, the doctors’ colleagues noticed their chemistry. Blumenschein’s supervisor says she confronted him in the fall of 2012 with what she suspected was an inappropriate relationship.
“I said, ‘You know there’s all these rumors going around. The behavior I see, it’s unseemly to me. Are you having an affair?’ ” Dr. Bonnie Glysson testified last week. “And he adamantly denied that.”
But the relationship was still going strong. It continued for about 18 months, until Gonzalez-Angulo learned that Blumenschein was still living with Toney – and even planned to have a child with her. That’s when, prosecutors say, Gonzalez-Angulo decided to poison her lover.
Blumenschein testified that on Jan. 27, Gonzalez-Angulo invited him over for a light breakfast and “special coffee from Colombia.”
After drinking a cup, “I felt tipsy,” he testified, adding that he had trouble standing as he talked to colleagues throughout the day. At dinner, he says, he couldn’t even hold his phone or utensils.
That day, Blumenschein says his supervisor asked him if he had taken the narcotic Oxycontin.
“I was surprised,” he testified, “because I’ve never done any drugs.”
He finally drove himself to the hospital – with Gonzalez-Angulo following behind. He says the rest of the day was a blur, but recalls waking up in a hospital bed and being told that he had been poisoned. According to doctors, his kidneys were permanently damaged and now function at about 43 percent. He is also at a higher risk of heart disease.
Blumenschein’s voice cracked as he took the stand. “It’s just hard reliving this,” he said, rubbing his eyes, “because I almost died.”
Gonzalez-Angulo’s attorney, Derek Hollingsworth, told jurors that his client “has been accused of something she did not do,” and adds that the prosecution has dramatized the relationship “to fit a theory that just doesn’t match the facts.”
If convicted of the first-degree felony, Gonzalez-Angulo faces a maximum punishment of life in prison.