A former Ligonier podiatrist’s request to reinstate his physician’s license has been refused two years since his release from prison, where he served a 10-year sentence for killing his wife.
Pennsylvania’s State Board of Podiatry determined Karl Long, formerly of Ligonier, failed to show an “absence of moral turpitude,” according to a decision released last month.
Long, 55, was convicted of third-degree murder for the October 1999 suffocation of his wife, Elaine. Prosecutors said Long held a plastic dry cleaning bag over her face during a fight at the family’s home in Ligonier Borough.
Long was released from prison on July 3, 2012, after serving every day of his prison sentence.
Last year, Long asked that his doctor’s license be restored. The license was pulled by the state licensing board in 2004 after he was convicted.
Earlier this year, Long contended in a hearing before the licensing agency that he was ready to return to work as a doctor, saying he had started a new life since his release from prison, records show.
Long lives in Summerhill Borough in Cambria County and works as a mason.
His lawyer, Kathryn Simpson of Harrisburg, said Long could appeal the ruling or file an application for reinstatement. “All of the options are under consideration,” Simpson said.
In denying Long’s request, the licensing board referenced Long’s four failed attempts to win release from prison on parole, as well as a lack of remorse for killing his wife.
“Glaringly absent from the petitioner’s ostensible peaceful existence is the vileness that was exhibited by petitioner during the murder of his wife,” wrote hearing officer Jackie Wiest Lutz.
Long was a well-known podiatrist when he was arrested for murder nearly 15 years ago. It took more than three years to litigate numerous issues before the case finally came to trial in 2003.
Westmoreland County prosecutors contended Long was guilty of first-degree murder, claiming he wanted to kill his wife to end a bad marriage.
Long’s lawyers argued he acted in self-defense as the doctor was attacked by his knife-wielding wife and he fell on top of her after he became unconscious during the fray.
During the trial, Long presented a handful of character witnesses on his behalf, including lawyers, a college administrator and religious leaders.
He presented six character witnesses at his licensing hearing late last year, although Lutz noted in her opinion that all were family members or family friends.
“Although the petitioner has served his criminal debt to society, he has yet to rehabilitate his character through an established pattern of behavior that is honorable, trustworthy and consistent with the community’s current ethical standards that shows an absence of moral turpitude,” Lutz wrote.
Long could not be reached for comment.
Simpson, though, said in an email that Long believes he is ready to return to medical practice and noted that Lutz reached conclusions that were far different than those noted by Senior Judge William J. Ober, who presided over Long’s trial and sentencing.
“Judge Ober had the opportunity to hear the evidence in the case over a three-week period and in a daylong sentencing hearing. He had the presentence investigation, impact statements and argument before noting Dr. Long’s good character ‘as attested to by a broad spectrum of (the) community’ and recognized ‘the remorse you have shown,’ ” Simpson wrote.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293 or [email protected].