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Tuesday, January 26, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Doctor Who Killed Wife Wants Medical License -- Former Physician Now In Western State

Seattle Times Staff Reporter

Dr. Bruce Rowan, the former Port Angeles doctor acquitted by reason of insanity in his wife's bludgeoning death last year, is trying to overturn a medical-board decision to strip him of his physician's license.

Rowan, 34, wants to be indefinitely suspended from practice, making it easier for him to reapply for his license and resume his career, said his Seattle attorney Kathryn Barron.

The case is before the state's Medical Quality Assurance Commission, and an administrative judge is to decide Friday if Rowan's appeal will go forward, said commission program manager Maryella Jansen.

Rowan, a former emergency-room physician who is now in Western State Hospital in Steilacoom for indefinite psychiatric treatment, was charged with first-degree murder in the March 1998 slaying of his wife, Deborah, who was beaten on her head with an ax and bat.

Prosecutors contended Rowan planned the slaying and then staged a car crash to make it look as if his wife died in a traffic accident so he could collect on her new $500,000 life-insurance policy.

But Rowan's defense lawyer at trial, David Allen, argued that Rowan had suffered a major psychotic episode the night his wife was killed.

While awaiting trial, Rowan was accused of unprofessional conduct by the commission. On Nov. 20, three weeks after the jury's verdict, Health Law Judge Arthur DeBusschere revoked Rowan's medical license, upholding the misconduct allegation on grounds that Rowan had never responded to the commission's charges.

That order bars Rowan from seeking reinstatement for at least 10 years, Jansen said.

But Barron says Rowan was never notified that his license was revoked, which was unfair and the primary reason Barron filed the Dec. 2 motion.

Barron also said Rowan would like the opportunity to practice medicine again if he is able.

She said Rowan's role in his wife's death had nothing do with his medical practice or his abilities as a physician.

"None of the things that happened, grisly though they may be, had anything to do with the fact that he is a doctor," Barron said.

Arthur Santana's phone message number is 206-515-5684. His e-mail address is: asantana@seattletimes.com

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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