Mariya Vandivort, Realtor in Champaign Urbana, Illinois

Coroner's Jury Duty: Case 5 and 6

In May 2005, I served on a Coroner's Jury. Details about the cases are given below and the main page describes more about the coroner's jury process.

Case 5:

Family members were present for this case. The husband was sworn in and gave testimony. As jurors, we were allowed to ask questions of the husband as well. The officiating coroner also served as a witness.

A 47 year old female was pronounced dead at around 10am at her residence. COD was toxic levels of Fentanyl (Phentenol, as some spell it). She was found on her bed, face down. According to family, she had been abusing pain medications for 10 years. When one doctor refused to continue a prescription, she would find another doctor. Paraphernalia for grinding and snorting pills was found in her purse. She had recently found a new doctor, and 3 days prior to her death she had been prescribed the Fentanyl time release patches. Out of the 6 that were prescribed, 2 were missing. The patches weren't found on her body, but patch residue was visible. Multiple types of medication were found at the residence from at least six different doctors. This included hydrocodone. It is suspected that she would stockpile the meds and then take them all at once to compensate for her body's expanded tolerance for the drugs. There had been several domestic disturbance calls at the residence. She had been in the hospital several months earlier, complaining about abdominal pain. The doctors said that it was just an excuse to get more pain medications. She had been seeing a psychiatrist in the past. According to her husband her psychiatrist had moved away and she had been going to doctors to get similar prescriptions to what the psychiatrist had been prescribing. Her death was the day before Easter and she hadn't had any suicidal tendencies.

We retired to our deliberation room and didn't have sufficient reason to think it was deliberate (on anyone's part)

Manner of death: ACCIDENT

Case 6:

The responding officer and a fire investigator were witnesses.

A 64 year old female was pronounced dead around 5am. Cause of death was carbon monoxide and inhalation of smoke and soot. Toxicology reports indicated therapeutic levels of hydrocodone and muscle relaxants. Her house had burned down. She was a babysitter. She had difficulty with mobility and used a walker. By all available accounts, she was not a smoker. She lived in an apartment that was approximately 20 foot square. A mother had picked up her child at 2:15 in the morning, at which time the deceased was found asleep on the couch. The mother had remarked that it seemed warm in the apartment and the deceased had commented that she agreed and had opened a window. There was no smoke visible at that time. The fire department got the call around 4:30 and she was found near the front door. Her feet had to be pushed aside to open the door. It is suspected that a neighbor reported the fire.

The local fire investigator stated that the cause of the fire couldn't be determined, after multiple investigations. The room of origin was determined to be in a small bedroom where she had a crib for children to sleep. The room was adjacent to where the deceased was found. When the fire department arrived, the car out in front of the house was also on fire. The car was about 8 feet away from the front window of the house.

We retired to our deliberation room and didn't have sufficient reason to think it was deliberate (on anyone's part)

Manner of death: ACCIDENT

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