No Crime Found In Schiavo Collapse

Terri Schiavo, who has been in a comatose state since 1990, is shown in this Aug. 11, 2001, file video, released by her family in Pinellas Park, Fla. In an bitter right-to-die battle, Schiavo's husband had her feeding tube removed in October, but a hastily passed law allowed Gov. Bush to have it reinserted six days later as her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, had requested. CBS

Florida's state attorney said there was no evidence Terri Schiavo's collapse 15 years ago involved criminal activity, and Gov. Jeb Bush on Thursday declared an end to the state's inquiry.

Bush had asked State Attorney Bernie McCabe to investigate Schiavo's case after her autopsy last month. He said he now considers the state's involvement with the matter finished.

"Based on your conclusions, I will follow your recommendation that the inquiry by the state be closed," Bush said in a two-sentence letter.

In asking McCabe to look again into what put Schiavo in a persistent vegetative state, Bush had cited an alleged gap between when Schiavo's husband Michael found her and when he called 911. The governor had said the issue remained unsettled.

McCabe said, however, while such discrepancies may exist in the record, Michael Schiavo's statements that he called 911 immediately had been consistent.

"This consistency, coupled with the varying recollections of the precise time offered by other interested parties, lead me to the conclusion that such discrepancies are not indicative of criminal activity and thus not material to any potential investigation," McCabe wrote in a letter to Bush accompanying his report.

The report was dated June 30, but not released until Thursday.

The bitter right-to-die case engulfed the courts, Congress and White House, and divided the country.

Terri Schiavo died March 31 from dehydration after her feeding tube was disconnected despite efforts by Bush, her parents and some state national lawmakers to keep her alive.

Michael Schiavo had fought to have the tube disconnected, saying his wife wouldn't have wanted to remain in such a state.

The autopsy left unanswered the question of why Terri Schiavo's temporarily heart stopped, cutting off oxygen to her brain. A medical examiner was unable to determine with reasonable certainty a "manner of death."

McCabe said there must be some fact or evidence indicating a criminal act caused the death to open a full homicide investigation. He said the review revealed none.

"There are several hypothetical theories that could be advanced, but I have concluded, though not with reasonable certainty, that the most likely hypothesis for the cause of her collapse was the one advanced during the 1992 malpractice litigation, i.e., an eating disorder," he wrote.

Attorneys for Terri Schiavo's parents didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

Michael Schiavo's attorney said he would comment after he reviewed the report.
  • Jaime Holguin

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