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Coroner: No evidence BB King was poisoned before death

2015-07-14 08:41

Las Vegas - Medical examiners found no evidence to prove the allegation that blues legend BB King was poisoned before he died of natural causes in May, according to autopsy findings made public on Monday.

Tests conducted after two of the musical icon's 11 adult children said their father had been murdered showed the cause of death was Alzheimer's disease, plus physical conditions including coronary disease, heart failure and the effects of Type 2 diabetes, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg told The Associated Press.

Daughters Karen Williams and Patty King had said through their attorney, Larissa Drohobyczer, that King's business manager, LaVerne Toney, and his personal assistant, Myron Johnson, hastened their father's death. Drohobyczer didn't immediately respond to messages Monday.

Brent Bryson, a lawyer for King's estate, called the claims against Toney and Johnson defamatory and libelous.

"Ms. Toney and Mr. Johnson are very happy that these false and fictional allegations that were made against them by certain of Mr. King's children have been dispelled," Bryson said. "Hopefully we can now focus on the body of musical work that BB King left the world, and he can finally rest in peace."

(BB King's funeral. AP)

Police were awaiting the coroner's findings, which Fudenberg said close official investigations of King's death.

Homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said there is no active police investigation.

The allegations drew intense interest while the daughters led a group of several of King's surviving adult children and grandchildren in an unsuccessful bid to wrest guardianship and oversight of the King estate from Toney.

Williams, Patty King and daughters Rita Washington and Barbara Winfree had Drohobyczer contest their father's will. They enlisted prominent national attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jose Baez to investigate whether B.B. King was properly cared for before he died.

Crump and Baez didn't immediately respond on Monday to messages.

BB King died in hospice care at home in Las Vegas at age 89. No family members were present.

King's physician, Dr. Darin Brimhall, and the coroner attributed his death at that time to natural causes — a series of small strokes caused by atherosclerotic vascular disease as a consequence of a long battle with blood sugar fluctuations and type 2 diabetes. The medical term was multi-infarct dementia.

Fudenberg said on Monday that the autopsy found evidence of cerebrovascular disease and mini-strokes similar to those described earlier. "Considering the information available to any clinical physician at the time, multi-infarct dementia was a reasonable conclusion to reach," he said

Tests didn't detect any substances that might have hastened King's death, Fudenberg said.

The autopsy to collect tissue samples was conducted May 24 — 10 days after King died, two days after a public viewing in Las Vegas drew more than 1000 fans and mourner, and one day after a family-and-friends memorial drew 350 people to a downtown Las Vegas funeral chapel.

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