Man who killed Perry Co. doctor asks for forgiveness

By: Michelle Heron, Morgan Lentes Email
By: Michelle Heron, Morgan Lentes Email
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He admits he did a terrible thing. Now, an Eastern Kentucky man who killed a doctor in his office is asking for forgiveness.

MGN Online

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) He admits he did a terrible thing. Now, an Eastern Kentucky man who killed a doctor in his office is asking for forgiveness. On Thursday, a Perry County judge gave John Combs a 40-year prison sentence for the 2009 murder of Dr. Dennis Sandlin.

On Friday, Combs gave his first interview since the murder.

"My daddy always taught me to man up and not be a crybaby. Not that I haven't cried about it, but you know, but I'm trying to be a man about it," says Combs.

He tells us he walked into the Leatherwood-Blackey Medical Clinic and shot Dr. Sandlin for not writing him a prescription for pain killers.

"I can't blame it on anyone else," says Combs.

Combs took the 40-year sentence as part of a plea deal to avoid the death penalty. Judge John David Caudill did not allow Combs to speak to Sandlin's family at his sentencing on Thursday.

"I'll take the guilt to my grave, I'll always feel guilty because I took a man's life. And that does bother me, no matter what they give me to deal with it, I'll still have the pain and the guilt and I share the family's pain," says Combs.

He says he's not just asking for forgiveness. He's also learning how to forgive himself.

"I know I hurt a lot of people. And I'm sorry for that. I hurt them and I hurt my family," says Combs.

Combs says he was going through withdrawl symptoms of Xanax at the time of the murder.
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Original Story- October 10, 2013-

Sitting and waiting for nearly four years.

On Thursday, loved ones of Dr. Dennis Sandlin finally got to see his murderer brought to justice.

John C. Combs received 40 years behind bars.

We have all heard the saying that time heals all wounds but for the family of Dr. Dennis Sandlin, it simply lessens the pain.

Sandlin's younger sister, Leila Sandlin Smith, said there is no denying Combs' guilt.

"It was cold. It was calculated. It was premeditated. He had plenty of time to think about what he was doing and make that decision that day and the reality is Denny was probably one that if he really wanted help, he would have helped him," said Smith.

Smith said knowing Combs will spend the next 40 years in prison is a blessing but she said her family is not finished yet.

"We are going to be keeping close watch because we are going to make sure that he does spend his life behind bars," said Smith.

Judge John David Caudill agreed and told Combs during sentencing that he hoped he would not make parole.

Defense attorney Jim Baechtold said his client is apologetic.

"He is remorseful and he is sorry and he will be paying the price for it in a state penitentiary," said Baechtold.

Several friends of Sandlin sat in court.

Fess Halcomb was a former patient of Dr. Sandlin.

He said more than a life was lost back in December 2009 when Combs shot Sandlin in his clinic.

"This man did not just kill a doctor. He killed a community," said Halcomb.

Smith said those close to her brother have helped her family keep fighting for him.

"That is what has kept us motivated and moving at times when we just did not know if we could continue, you know? They provided us that strength and support," said Smith.

Combs tried to speak after he was sentenced but the judge would not allow it.

Smith said her family wants to continue fighting for the rights of murder victim's families in court.

Combs sentence was part of a plea deal.

He pleaded guilty to murder in order to avoid the death penalty.


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