man handcuff
Herbalist Timothy Morrow accused of child abuse and one count of practicing medicine without a license in a trail held in Los Angeles last week. This is a representational image of a man in handcuffs being led away by the New York Police in New York City Sept. 29, 2009. DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

An 84-year-old herbalist has been convicted to four months in jail for the death of a 13-year-old boy he was treating for Type I diabetes. Timothy Morrow convinced the boy’s family that the insulin the latter was supposed to be taking was poison and instead suggested that they rub lavender oil on his back. He also gave them a medicine that he claimed would cure the boy for life.

Morrow, who had been treating the boy, Edgar Lopez, is a self-claimed herbalist. He was sentenced to four months in jail and 48 months probation for one count of child abuse leading to death and one count of practicing medicine without a license. Lopez died of a cardiac arrest in 2014.

The City Attorney of Los Angeles, warned Morrow that he may be charged with murder if his practice lead to the death of another person.

The teen's condition worsened during the last two days of his life. He barely weighed 68 pounds and was unable to keep his food down while struggling to breathe as his eyes stayed fixed on one place and his skin felt cold to touch, his father Delfino Lopez Solis told the jury through an interpreter. “He told us that if we took the child to the hospital, he would get killed there,” Solis said. A medical examiner from Los Angeles later confirmed that the boy could have been saved had he received proper medical care. Solis said Morrow warned them that Edgar would die if they took him to the hospital, citing the reason why they didn't call 911 even as the teen's health deteriorated.

Monday, prosecutors accused Morrow, from Torrence, California, of contributing to the boy’s death while he pleaded no contest to one count of child abuse. He was ordered by the court to cover the cost of Lopez’s funeral and pay $5,000 as fine. Morrow sells several dietary supplements, laxatives and protein powders. These include a product called Pancreas Reg, which he told Lopez’s mother Maria Madrigal was “God’s insulin” and claims to improve blood sugar levels. There is a disclaimer that warns customers that the claims have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and that the tablets are not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. They contain prickly pear leaf, slippery elm bark, banana leaf extract and some other herbs.

Madrigal and Solis claimed that the family was “brainwashed” by Morrow into believing that the American health care system benefited from ensuring that people stayed sick so that they could earn profits from it. She further said that the herbalist seemed “like a god” to her and she attended several of his herbal medicine seminars. “I had doubts at the beginning, but then I kept going to the classes. He has something that convinces you,” she said.

Meanwhile, Morrow’s attorney argued that Madrigal was interested in treating her son with herbal medicine even before she met Morrow. He claimed that she had testified that she did rely on traditional remedies while growing up in Mexico. He said that nobody stole insulin from their house and that Madrigal could have given the boy insulin had she wanted to.

Morrow had a website where he calls himself a master herbalist and says that he was diagnosed with prostate cancer at 48 but cured himself by taking herbs and changing his diet. He also had a YouTube channel where he posted videos of himself calling tumors gift from God and claiming that insulin is very poisonous to the system.

He was ordered by the judge to remove all the content from his channel as a part of his sentence.

Lopez’s family wasn’t the only one who listened to Morrow and his advice. A man went to the LA police and told them that his wife refused to treat her cancer with the regular medical approach before she died as Morrow had advised her not to. The man was not called to testify since the jury had already declared Morrow as guilty.