The doctor who discovered the body of LPGA golfer Erica Blasberg after she committed suicide has pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice.
Dr. Thomas Hess entered a guilty plea to a misdemeanor charge of resisting a public officer. He appeared in a Henderson, Nev., municipal court this morning.
He was sentenced to one year of probation and 40 hours of community service at Volunteers of Medicine of Southern Nevada, as well as anger management counseling.
He is believed to be the last person to have seen Blasberg alive. The 25-year-old pro golfer was found dead in her Henderson home, outside Las Vegas, on May 9, 2010.
In August, the Clark County coroner's office ruled her death a suicide due to asphyxia, coupled with the presence of toxic levels of prescription medication in her system, including prescription headache, cough, pain and anti-anxiety medications.
Though no foul play was suspected in Blasberg's death, officials issued an arrest warrant for Hess on obstruction of justice charges on August 24. Hess was accused of removing items, including medication and a suicide note, from the scene before police officers arrived.
Erica's father Mel told KTNV, ABC's Las Vegas affiliate, that the doctor was partly responsible for Erica's death.
"I felt that the verdict was insignificant," Mel Blasberg said outside the courtroom. "I think the way Dr. Hess acted and didn't act is partly responsible for Erica's death. But I was looking for some remorse."
"Understand that, when you wear that white coat, like he does, you have a responsibility that probably goes beyond our own," Mel Blasberg said. "And he failed. He failed the white coat and he failed the oath. He failed everything that he believes in."
In August, Mel expressed his suspicions about Hess.
"He's central to Erica's death in terms of being there before she died, and their relationship clearly went beyond doctor-patient," Mel told ABC News.
Erica's father stopped short of saying Hess, who is still practicing family medicine in Las Vegas, was responsible for his daughter's death. But he said he did believe Hess was being less than forthcoming about what happened the weekend of Erica's death because of his "inapporopriate relationship" with her.
Hess called 911 from Erica's home in Henderson, Nev., outside Las Vegas, on the afternoon of May 9, the day she was found dead. Reportedly, he spoke to her the night before she died. But after his initial interview with authorities, Hess hired a lawyer and refused to answer any more questions, Mel said.
Four days after Erica's death, police raided Hess' home and medical office, seizing computers, video cameras, a cell phone, and white plastic trash bags similar to one found near Erica's body, according to "The Early Show." A prescription written by Hess was discovered in Erica's home.
Erica Blasberg's Death Investigation Leaves Father Angry
"At the bottom of this, we just want to know what happened," Mel Blasberg said.
In the days leading up to her death, Mel Blasberg told ABC News that his daughter couldn't have been "more up, more positive" and was looking forward to a tournament in Alabama.
Cleveland Golf, the equipment and apparel maker, had sent Blasberg a brand new bag. "She was the only one in the world who had this special bag because she represents the ladies line," her father said.
Coached by her dad in her hometown of Orange, California, Blasberg quickly emerged as a star on the Arizona team, winning six tournaments in two years and becoming a two-time All-American. In 2003, she finished the season No. 1 in the rankings and was named NCAA Freshman of the Year, Pacific-10 Player of the Year and Golfweek's Player of the Year.
Blasberg left school at the end of her sophomore year in 2004 to turn pro. But she struggled on the LPGA, never finishing higher than 94th on the money list.
In the 2010 season, Blasberg had played only one event, at the Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico, where she tied for 44th two weeks ago.
"She had just finished a tournamount in Mexico. She was three under par," her father told ABC News. "And you know in golf, like sports, some people aren't in the right mood and you know you just have to deal with it. That wasn't the case. I mean I never saw her more positive. Last year was a lousy year. We thought she might even leave golf. That is not the case. I mean she couldn't wait."
"What I hope her legacy is going to be is that she instills confidence and drive in other people to emulate the way she was," Mel added. "She picked something to do, did it well and had a way of getting people to like her while she was doing it."
"I think it's what she will instill in people to come that gives us a positive about losing a life at 25 years old," he said.