The Los Angeles County coroner has ruled that the death of a Japanese businessman in an LAPD jail cell was a suicide by hanging.
Kazuyoshi Miura, who was accused of killing his wife in 1981, was found dead Oct. 10 at the Parker Center jail. Police officials have insisted that Miura hanged himself with a T-shirt less than a day after being extradited from Saipan to stand trial on a conspiracy charge in his wife's death. His lawyer, however, has challenged that, saying the man suffered injuries consistent with a choking or beating.
In a statement Wednesday, coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey said the death was ruled a suicide based on an Oct. 12 autopsy and subsequent tests. "The findings of the autopsy have established the cause of death to be: hanging," Harvey said "Anatomical findings show no other evidence of fatal trauma."
Miura's attorney, Mark Geragos, however, has said that pathologists hired by Miura's legal team found injuries to the middle and lower parts of the back as well as to the larynx. Geragos said pathologist Brian Posey found ligature marks on Miura's neck that were "consistent with a choking, not a hanging."
On Wednesday, Geragos insisted that the county coroner was mistaken.
"They missed all the hemorrhaging and evidence consistent with a beating. I told them they'd made a grave mistake. But they wouldn't take the body back because of their policy," Geragos said. "They should be embarrassed."
Geragos said his experts conducted two autopsies after the Oct. 12 coroner's exam and found clear evidence of a beating. However, he said, the county coroner refused to "come and take a look."
Police Chief William J. Bratton has rebutted suggestions that Miura was strangled by another person.
"There is no evidence of foul play," Bratton said. "The death was by suicide."
According to LAPD Deputy Chief Mark Perez, officers had made the appropriate checks of Miura, 61, who police say was in a cell alone. Miura's death was discovered after an inmate heard a noise.
Miura was accused of plotting the death of his wife, Kazumi Miura, 28, who was shot in the head in November 1981 as the couple visited downtown Los Angeles. He was shot in the leg.
Authorities said Miura had conspired to kill his wife to collect $750,000 in life insurance payments.