Under the Knife

After a long history of public drunkenness and allegations of slashing two men's throats, it is time to examine the troubled practice of Dr. John Hargett

Norton's office did, however, locate 16 arrest reports for Holmes, including arrests for three DWIs, two public intoxication incidents, and numerous traffic warrants. The reports span 16 years and end in 1979, when Holmes gave up drinking. He was convicted on several of the charges.

Holmes, who readily acknowledges that his history includes a trail of criminal charges, says he ditched the bottle when he realized it was ruining his life.

"I used to drink a lot," he says. "When we got out of the service, we all had bad attitudes. Something happened to us over there, but some of us quit and others didn't."

Holmes says he long since has forgiven Hargett for the scars he claims Hargett left, but finds some vindication in the doctor's more recent misfortunes and the interest in the otherwise forgotten scrape.

"I feel sorry for him. He could have made something out of himself instead of being idiots like us," Holmes says, letting loose a cackle and reclining into his imitation leather easy chair. "I don't care what that chump does, because that old drinking's almost got him. I'll bet his liver is about as hard as this floor."

In August, McKinney police detective Terry Morrison stated that his department has no record of the fight between Holmes and Hargett, but added that he has interviewed Holmes about the incident and photographed his scars. Morrison is handling the criminal investigation of the April 1996 slashing at Chris' Blue Tees.

"It showed scarring on his throat in a downward motion, on the cheek, across his chest, and his left arm; a large scar under the arm," Morrison stated in a deposition taken in connection with a civil suit Kerry Recer filed against Hargett in June, seeking damages for the neck injury he suffered in the barroom fight.

With police and reporters showing new interest in the 1973 fight, Holmes says, he attempted to get copies of emergency room records to help confirm his story. But Holmes says officials at the McKinney hospital told him his entire medical file is missing.

"My files at the hospital aren't there no more," Holmes says. "We moved here in '58. I've been here ever since. I've gone to Wysong's my whole life. My family has gone to Wysong's. I don't know how my record could suddenly be gone."

By 1977, Hargett had moved to neighboring Denton and enrolled as an undergraduate at North Texas State University. He was just months away from earning a bachelor's degree in biology, but still managed to cross paths with the police back in McKinney.

Shortly after 11 p.m. on March 31, McKinney police responded to a call at the Parkwest Villa Apartments. Hargett, who allegedly was drunk, attempted to enter the apartment of a female friend, who refused to let him in. Hargett went to another apartment and walked inside, startling its sleeping occupants, according to police reports.

Hargett was arrested and charged with public intoxication and criminal trespassing. At the time, Hargett's personal possessions included a knife, two rings, a pack of cigarettes, and $3.74. Once again, there is no record that Hargett was prosecuted for the arrest.

With his criminal record still spotless, Hargett earned his B.A. that year, followed by a master's degree in microbiology in 1978 from the same university. In 1982, he received his doctorate in medicine from the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. After he finished his internship and residency at the Texas Tech Regional Academic Health Science Center in Amarillo in 1983, Hargett obtained his state license to practice medicine.

Hargett returned to McKinney as a family practitioner. He soon obtained staff privileges at Wysong Memorial Hospital, a 65-bed facility owned and operated by Walter Scott Wysong, his three sons, and their sons.

Dr. Brad Wysong, a staff radiologist at Columbia Medical Center and Walter Scott Wysong's grandson, praised Hargett for his skill as a doctor and his concern for patients: "I would guarantee you that if you're sick or you're on the side of the road and you've been hit by a car, [Hargett is] not the type of doctor who's going to drive by."

Although Columbia Medical Center public-relations officials and the hospital's attorney, J. Truscott Jones, refused to confirm Hargett's status with the hospital, Brad Wysong says Hargett had staff privileges at least until the April slashing at Chris' Blue Tees.

"With this [attempted murder charge], he may have gone on temporary leave," says Wysong, who adds that he's trying to "stay out of it."

But Wysong quickly adds that Hargett has enjoyed a long-lasting and successful relationship with the hospital. Wysong says that Hargett's practice, the McKinney Family Clinic, is vital to McKinney's sizable elderly population because it is one of the few practices that still accepts new Medicare patients.

The April slashing is a "fluke," Wysong says, and Hargett's reputation for hanging out at bars, particularly Chris' Blue Tees, is "overexaggerated."

"He goes a lot. I don't know that he drinks a lot," Wysong says, adding that Chris' Blue Tees is more like a family restaurant than a bar. "After city council planning and zoning [meetings], everyone goes there. They really have probably the best hamburger in Collin County."

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