Monday 24 October 2016

No homicide probe in BB King death

Published 26/05/2015 | 02:31

BB King died in Las Vegas earlier this month aged 89
BB King died in Las Vegas earlier this month aged 89

Las Vegas police say there is no active homicide investigation of the death of BB King, despite claims by two of the blues star's heirs that his two closest aides poisoned him.

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Lieutenant Ray Steiber said any police action will depend on the findings of post-mortem tests.

Clark County coroner John Fudenberg said there is no immediate evidence supporting allegations by a lawyer who says she represents King's heirs.

Daughters Karen Williams and Patty King allege the guitarist's business manager LaVerne Toney and personal assistant Myron Johnson hastened their father's death.

A post-mortem examination was performed on King's body on Sunday and results of forensic tests are expected to take up to eight weeks.

Mr Fudenberg said his investigation will not delay upcoming services for King in Memphis and his home town of Indianola, Mississippi.

He died in Las Vegas earlier this month aged 89.

The lawyer for King's estate, Brent Bryson, called the claims ridiculous, adding that t hree doctors determined that King was appropriately cared for and received 24-hour care and monitoring by medical professionals "up until the time that he peacefully passed away in his sleep".

Ms Williams and Ms King allege that family members were prevented from visiting while Ms Toney and Mr Johnson hastened their father's death.

Ms Toney is named in King's will as executor of an estate that, according to court documents filed by lawyers for some of King's heirs, could total tens of millions of dollars.

Mr Johnson was at King's bedside when he died on May 14 in hospice care in Las Vegas. No family members were present.

"I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances," Ms King and Ms Williams say in identically worded sections of affidavits provided by their lawyer, Larissa Drohobyczer.

"I believe my father was murdered," they say.

Ms Toney and Mr Johnson declined to comment on the accusations.

"They've been making allegations all along. What's new?" said Ms Toney, who worked for King for 39 years and had power-of-attorney over his affairs.

A week before King's death, a judge in Las Vegas dismissed a request from Ms Williams to take over as King's guardian.

An April 29 petition alleged that Ms Toney had blocked King's friends from visiting him and had put her family members on King's payroll. It also alleged that large sums of money had disappeared from King's bank accounts.

But Clark County Family Court hearing master Jon Norheim said on May 7 that police and social services investigations in October and April uncovered no reason to take power-of-attorney from Ms Toney.

Ms Williams, Ms King and another daughter - Rita Washington - vowed to keep fighting.

"We lost the battle, but we haven't lost the war," Ms Williams said.

This week's allegations come days after a public viewing in Las Vegas drew more than 1,000 fans and mourners and a weekend family-and-friends memorial drew 350.

Mr Fudenberg said his office's investigation should not delay those services.

Mr Bryson said the allegations were "extremely disrespectful" to King.

"He did not want invasive medical procedures," he said. "He made the decision to return home for hospice care instead of staying in a hospital. These unfounded allegations have caused Mr King to undergo an autopsy, which is exactly what he didn't want."

Ms Drohobyczer said she represents Ms Williams, Ms King and most of King's nine other adult children and heirs.

"The family is sticking together ... to oust Ms Toney based on her illegal conduct, conflicts of interest and self-dealing," she said. She alleged that Ms Toney hastened King's death by "misconduct, or by failing to properly attend to his medical needs".

An affidavit from Ms King, who used to live at King's home, says she saw Mr Johnson administer to King two drops of an unknown substance on his tongue during evenings for several months before his death, and that Ms Toney never told her what the substance was.

Mr Bryson called Ms Drohobyczer's claims ridiculous.

"I hope they have a factual basis that they can demonstrate for their defamatory and libellous allegations," he said.

Press Association

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