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Drug Overdose Leaves Cheyenne Brando, 20, Comatose, Source Says

November 02, 1990|LOIS TIMNICK and PATT MORRISON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

Actor Marlon Brando's daughter, Cheyenne, 20, lay comatose in a Tahitian hospital late Thursday after overdosing on tranquilizers and antidepressant drugs, according to a source close to the family.

"The next eight hours are critical," physicians at Mamao Hospital told Brando, according to the source.

He booked the next flight to Papeete this morning, the source said.

A physician at the hospital confirmed that Cheyenne Brando is a patient.

"I can't say anything (further) without the authorization of the family," he said. "She's hospitalized. That's all I can say."

For months, the young woman has been the object of a tug-of-war between authorities in California, where she is a critical witness in the murder trial of her half-brother, Christian, and Tahiti, where she has been charged with complicity in the death of her lover, Dag Drollet.

Drollet was shot to death by Christian Brando at the elder Brando's Mulholland Drive estate in May. Christian Brando has admitted the shooting but insists it was accidental, the result of a struggle over a gun after his pregnant sister told him Drollet had beaten her.

Brando's trial is to begin Monday, although prosecutors have asked for a delay while they exhaust efforts to compel Cheyenne to return to Los Angeles. Without her testimony, prosecutors say their chances of proving the shooting was premeditated and, thus, murder are slim.

Cheyenne Brando told police shortly after the shooting that it was not an accident.

"It was a murder, in case you don't know," she said in a June interview.

The young woman then took the next direct flight to Tahiti, where she gave birth to Drollet's son and was herself charged in the death of Drollet, a French citizen.

The victim's father, Jacques Drollet, said in an interview from Tahiti last month that, since her return, Cheyenne has twice been hospitalized in a psychiatric facility for drug detoxification.

"Now she's out having a good time," he reported three weeks ago. "She is roaming about in Papeete, the main town of Tahiti, where she has been seen shopping with her mother, Tarita, and her (newborn) son, Tookie. She is also going out to the beaches and the nightclubs with her new boyfriend, an Italian. . . ."

But Marlon Brando has maintained that his daughter has suffered both physical and emotional problems since a near-fatal auto accident and Drollet's death. The last time he accompanied his son to court he broke down in tears when asked about her condition.

The state Supreme Court on Thursday passed along to an appeals court the prosecution's request to delay the trial.

Prosecutors also have requested that the Santa Monica Superior Court judge hearing the case be ordered to rule on whether a formal request for help from French authorities in returning Cheyenne Brando to California should be issued. The high court also referred that matter to the appeals court.

Jury selection will begin Monday, unless the appellate court acts today.

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