SAN DIEGO - A prosecutor began laying out her case Tuesday against a La Mesa man accused of posing as a doctor and promising patients he could cure cancer and HIV.
Keith Barton, 51, faces multiple felony counts of treating people without a license and grand theft.
Authorities allege the defendant called himself "Dr. Barton" and promised to cure a woman and her children of HIV.
One of the children subsequently died as a result of not receiving effective treatment after the mother paid Barton $18,000, prosecutors allege.
The mother, who was only identified as Lisa, testified she asked for that money back when her 9-year-old daughter was admitted to the intensive care unit.
"Could I please get the $18,000 back since we hadn't done anything in the process, this therapy with him and at that point, he started yelling at me over the phone," she said.
Nine-year-old Veronica died, her mother says, from ineffective and phony cures offered up by the self-proclaimed doctor.
"His voice got very sharp with me and I suppose I should have believed it but I couldn't believe it … that somebody didn't have compassion for my little girl, because I was so afraid for her and he didn't even care," she said.
According to authorities, Barton is not a licensed medical doctor but shares his first and last name with a real medical doctor who is licensed in California. Barton allegedly used that fact to create the impression that he was a licensed professional.
Lisa says his bedside manner was the first red flag.
"I just lost any shred of any trust that I could possibly have in him because he had no concern for my daughter," she said.
The defendant allegedly said he provided treatment for cancer, allergies and other ailments, with more than 200 doctors on staff, including surgeons working for him in Tijuana.
An undercover agent testified last year that Barton told her his therapy treatment "would cure my cancer" and wrote him a check for $8,760.
Barton was arrested last Jan. 8 and later posted $100,000 bail.