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Homicide finding unchanged by autopsy of Chicago lottery winner

March 01, 2013|By Michael Muskal

The examination of the exhumed body of a Chicago lottery winner had found nothing new that would change the original finding of homicide by poison, the chief medical examiner said on Friday.

At a news conference, Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Stephen J. Cina said that Urooj Khan, whose body was exhumed on Jan. 18, died from cyanide toxicity with heart disease as a contributing factor. Weeks before Khan died on July 20, he won a lottery prize of about $425,000 after taxes.

“As a pathologist you have to look at the totality of the evidence,” Cina told reporters, according to media reports from the news conference. “And I don't see how I can ignore a lethal level of cyanide in the blood.”

The death is considered a homicide because of the fluids, taken before Khan was buried, that showed the cyanide. The autopsy found no cyanide because the poison usually breaks down quickly and the body was decomposed, Cina said. There was no indication how the cyanide could have been administered, he said.

Originally, officials had ruled Khan had died of natural causes, but conducted more tests after his brother, Imtiaz Khan, questioned the original ruling.

Chicago police were notified in September after tests found the cyanide. In late November, more tests showed that cyanide was at toxic levels.

Khan’s widow, Shabana Ansari, has hired a criminal defense lawyer, and has said she was questioned by police. She said the detectives asked her about the ingredients she used to prepare her husband’s final meal. Ansari's father, Fareedun, also lived in the family home.

Neither has been accused of any crime and both have denied any involvement in Khan’s death.

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