'No evidence' BB King was poisoned
Published 14/07/2015 | 03:26
Medical experts found no evidence that blues legend BB King was poisoned before he died, post-mortem tests have revealed.
Tests conducted after two of the star'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 said.
Daughters Karen Williams and Patty King had said through their lawyer, Larissa Drohobyczer, that King's business manager LaVerne Toney and his personal assistant Myron Johnson hastened their 89-year-old father's death.
Brent Bryson, a lawyer for King's estate, has said the claims are defamatory.
"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," Mr 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."
The findings close official investigations of King's death, Mr Fudenberg said. Homicide officer Lieutenant Dan McGrath said there was no active police investigation.
King died at home in Las Vegas under hospice care.
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 Ms Toney.
Williams, Patty King and daughters Rita Washington and Barbara Winfree instructed Ms Drohobyczer to contest their father's will and enlisted prominent lawyers Benjamin Crump and Jose Baez to investigate whether King was properly cared for before he died.
Ms Washington said she was still upset that no family members were present but was relieved to learn her father had not been poisoned.
"I'm glad it's natural causes," she said. "We just didn't know what was going on and what had happened with our father."
King's doctor Darin Brimhall and the coroner had attributed his death to natural causes - a series of small strokes caused by atherosclerotic vascular disease as a consequence of his long battle with blood sugar fluctuations and diabetes. The medical term was multi-infarct dementia.
Mr Fudenberg said the post-mortem examination found additional 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 did not detect any substances that might have hastened King's death, Mr Fudenberg said.
The post-mortem tests were conducted on May 24, 10 days after King died, two days after a public viewing in Las Vegas drew more than 1,000 fans and mourners, and a day after a family-and-friends memorial drew 350 people to a funeral chapel.
A Beale Street procession and memorial took place on May 27 in Memphis, Tennessee, followed by burial on May 30 in King's home town of Indianola, Mississippi.
Mr Bryson told a probate judge in Las Vegas last month that Dr Brimhall and two other doctors determined that King received appropriate medical and hospice care, and that Ms Toney was fulfilling his will and wishes.
Ms Toney worked for King for 39 years and had power of attorney over his business affairs. She is named in King's will, filed in January 2007, as executor.
The value of the estate has not been publicly disclosed but Mr Bryson has said it is not expected to amount to the tens of millions of dollars suggested during a guardianship fight before King's death.
Ms Drohobyczer has said she thinks the estate is worth between five and 10 million dollars.