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Public Defender Dies in Hot Tub; Coke Vial Found

May 16, 1987

A Los Angeles County deputy public defender was found dead in a hot tub with a vial of cocaine near his body late Thursday, authorities said.

The death of Kelly James Mullins, 35, at the Splash club in West Los Angeles is "being handled as an accidental drowning while pending further investigation of toxicological reports," said Los Angeles police spokesman Bill Frio.

Mullins was found floating face down by an attendant who entered after the two-hour period he paid for ended. The cocaine and a razor blade were found next to the tub, police said.

Mullins, a UCLA Law School graduate, had worked as a public defender for three years and was assigned to the San Fernando Municipal Courthouse.

"We're very shocked--he was a very nice man, a very exuberant, forceful kind of guy and a good trial lawyer," said Stuart R. Rappaport, head of branch and area operations for the public defender's office.

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