published Saturday, April 6th, 2013

Hamilton County civil case with claims of poison now over

  • photo
    The home of Liesa and Dr. Hal Hill is located on Fairy Trail in the town of Lookout Mountain, Tenn.
    Photo by John Rawlston /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

A woman who claimed in court documents that her doctor husband tried to poison her has reached a settlement and dropped the protective order against him.

Hamilton County Circuit Court Judge Marie Williams signed documents Thursday for Liesa and Dr. Hal Hill that ended the protective order granted in August. The couple has agreed to a divorce.

Hal Hill's attorney, Lee Davis, said Friday that allegations against his client were baseless. The civil court claims were, he said, "at best misguided, at worst just false."

Liesa Hill's attorney, Chrissy Mincy, said she could not disclose details of the settlement but said the agreement leaves her client "safe and secure both personally and financially."

Mincy responded to Davis' comment by pointing out that the protective order, which stayed in place more than eight months, was granted based on toxicology findings showing heavy metal poisoning.

Mincy said evidence not publicly disclosed may come out in the course of a potential criminal investigation. She referred further questions about the case to the Hamilton County District Attorney's Office and police.

Lookout Mountain, Tenn., police confirmed Friday that an investigation is ongoing.

Executive Assistant District Attorney Neal Pinkston said Friday that he could not comment on criminal investigations that had not resulted in formal charges.

Liesa Hill claimed in her Circuit Court filing for a protective order that she had fallen ill and suspected her husband was poisoning her. She said she contacted Lookout Mountain police.

Samples of coffee she said was poisoned initially showed positive results for barium, a substance sometimes used in medical testing or X-ray development.

The compound can cause intestinal problems, kidney damage and muscle weakness, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But Davis said Friday that subsequent tests by multiple toxicology experts showed no such substance.

"There has never been a criminal charge. There has never been a threat of criminal indictment. As far as I'm concerned, this case is over," Davis said.

Media coverage of the case, he said, was similar to coverage of the disappearance of Gail Palmgren and speculation that her husband, Matthew Palmgren, was involved.

The 44-year-old Signal Mountain woman disappeared in April 2011. It wasn't until December of that year that her body was found in her Jeep off the edge of East Brow Road. Police called her death a "tragic accident."

Davis, who provided legal counsel to Matthew Palmgren during the seven-month ordeal, said both men faced unwarranted local and national media scrutiny.

"The media got ahold of the story within days and came to the conclusion that the people were guilty," he said. "In both cases lives were damaged."

Contact staff writer Todd South at tsouth@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him onTwitter @tsouthCTFP.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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