Adopted Russian child's death accidental, medical examiner rules

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ODESSA, Texas The death of a 3-year-old Russian boy adopted by a West Texas couple has been ruled an accident but the investigation is ongoing, officials said Friday.

The county's medical examiner determined Max Shatto's death Jan. 21 was not intentional, Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson and District Attorney Bobby Bland said.

Preliminary autopsy results had indicated Max had bruises on several parts of his body, and Bland said Friday that the bruises appeared to be self-inflicted. He also said no drugs were found in Max's system.

"I had four doctors agree that this is the result of an accident," he said. "We have to take that as fact."

Alan and Laura Shatto adopted Max, born Maxim Kuzmin, and his half brother, 2-year-old Kristopher, from an orphanage in western Russia this past fall. Laura Shatto told authorities she found Max unresponsive outside their Gardendale, Texas, home while he was playing with his younger brother. The boy was pronounced dead a short time later.

The Shatto's attorney, Michael J. Brown, said Friday he agreed "with the conclusion that it was an accidental death and I've been saying it all along."

This is not a surprise to me at all," he said.

The investigation into the boy's death continues, Bland said. Once investigators complete their work, Bland will meet with them and decide whether to pursue charges such as negligent supervision or injury to a child by omission.

In February Russian authorities blamed ''inhuman treatment'' for the death of the three-year-old.

Russia's Investigative Committee said it had questions about the death. The committee is the country's top investigative agency.

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