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Coroner: No Evidence B.B. King Was Poisoned Before Death

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In this Aug. 8, 2013 file photo, Blues music legend B.B. King performs on Frampton’s Guitar Circus 2013 Tour at Pier Six Pavilion, in Baltimore. The coroner in Las Vegas says there’s no evidence King was poisoned before he died of natural causes in May 2015. Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said Monday, July 13, 2015, that an autopsy sought by two of the musical icon’s 11 adult children came back cause of death alzheimers disease with other significant conditions. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

In this Aug. 8, 2013 file photo, Blues music legend B.B. King performs on Frampton’’s Guitar Circus 2013 Tour at Pier Six Pavilion, in Baltimore. The coroner in Las Vegas says there’s no evidence King was poisoned before he died of natural causes in May 2015. Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said Monday, July 13, 2015, that an autopsy sought by two of the musical icon’s 11 adult children came back cause of death alzheimers disease with other significant conditions. (Photo by Owen Sweeney/Invision/AP, File)

KEN RITTER, Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Medical examiners found no evidence to prove the allegation that blues legend B.B. King was poisoned before he died of natural causes in May, according to autopsy findings made public Monday.

Tests conducted after two of the musical icon’s 11 adult children said their father had been murdered showed the cause of death was Alzheimer’s disease, plus physical conditions including coronary disease, heart failure and the effects of Type 2 diabetes, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg told The Associated Press.

Daughters Karen Williams and Patty King had said through their attorney, Larissa Drohobyczer, that King’s business manager, LaVerne Toney, and his personal assistant, Myron Johnson, hastened their father’s death. Drohobyczer didn’t immediately respond to messages Monday.

Brent Bryson, a lawyer for King’s estate, has called the claims defamatory and libelous.

“Ms. Toney and Mr. Johnson are very happy that these false and fictional allegations that were made against them by certain of Mr. King’s children have been dispelled,” Bryson said. “Hopefully we can now focus on the body of musical work that B.B. King left the world, and he can finally rest in peace.”

The findings close official investigations of King’s death, Fudenberg said.

Homicide Lt. Dan McGrath said there is no active police investigation.

The allegations drew intense interest while the daughters led a group of several of King’s surviving adult children and grandchildren in an unsuccessful bid to wrest guardianship and oversight of the King estate from Toney.

Williams, Patty King and daughters Rita Washington and Barbara Winfree had Drohobyczer contest their father’s will. They enlisted prominent national attorneys Benjamin Crump and Jose Baez to investigate whether B.B. King was properly cared for before he died.

Crump, Baez, Williams, Patty King and Winfree didn’t immediately respond Monday to messages.

B.B. King died in hospice care at home in Las Vegas at age 89.

Washington said she’s still upset that no family members were present. But she said she was relieved to learn her father hadn’t been poisoned.

“I’m glad it’s natural causes,” Washington said. “We just didn’t know what was going on and what had happened with our father.”

King’s physician, Dr. Darin Brimhall, and the coroner had attributed his death to natural causes — a series of small strokes caused by atherosclerotic vascular disease as a consequence of his long battle with blood sugar fluctuations and diabetes. The medical term was multi-infarct dementia.

Fudenberg said Monday the autopsy found additional evidence of cerebrovascular disease and mini-strokes similar to those described earlier. “Considering the information available to any clinical physician at the time, multi-infarct dementia was a reasonable conclusion to reach,” he said

Tests didn’t detect any substances that might have hastened King’s death, Fudenberg said.

The autopsy was conducted May 24 — 10 days after King died, two days after a public viewing in Las Vegas drew more than 1,000 fans and mourner, and one day after a family-and-friends memorial drew 350 people to a downtown Las Vegas funeral chapel.

A Beale Street procession and memorial took place May 27 in Memphis, Tennessee, followed by burial May 30 in King’s hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.

Bryson told a probate judge in Las Vegas last month that Brimhall and two other doctors determined that King received appropriate medical and hospice care, and that Toney was fulfilling King’s will and wishes.

Toney worked for King for 39 years and had power-of-attorney over his business affairs. She is named in King’s will, filed in January 2007, as executor.

The value of the estate that hasn’t been publicly disclosed.

Bryson has said it wasn’t expected to amount to the tens of millions of dollars suggested during a guardianship fight before King’s death.

Drohobyczer has said she thinks the estate is worth between $5 million and $10 million.

___

This story corrects that Toney is named in will as executor, not beneficiary; adds comment from Rita Washington; and refers to efforts to reach other lawyers and family members.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Advice

A Sampling of Dining Out Options for Thanksgiving Soul Food Around California

While many people enjoy preparing and eating that turkey dinner at home, some people prefer to outsource their feast. For those folks, here’s a small sampling of some soul food restaurants around the state that will be open on or around Thanksgiving.

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Minnie Bell’s sign and a pan of their typical fare: Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese. Facebook image and photo.
Minnie Bell’s sign and a pan of their typical fare: Brussels sprouts and macaroni and cheese. Facebook image and photo.

By Aldon Thomas Stiles | California Black Media

Thanksgiving is around the corner, and with that comes greens, beans, candied yams, turkey (roasted and deep-fried), dressing, mac n’ cheese, sweet potato pie and all the other soul food “fixins” that make the holiday meal arguably the tastiest meal of the year for many African Americans. We can choose from a diverse menu of food options that we prepare at home, or we can try to enjoy those options dining out.

The city of Inglewood, for example, is hosting a drive-thru turkey giveaway on Nov. 23 with special guest Snoop Dogg.

The event will go from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and is located at Hollywood Park. The goal is to serve 2,500 Inglewood residents with free turkeys provided by Don Lee Farms.

While many people enjoy preparing and eating that turkey dinner at home, some people prefer to outsource their feast.

For those folks, here’s a small sampling of some soul food restaurants around the state that will be open on or around Thanksgiving.

Minnie Bell’s (Emeryville)

Minnie Bell’s — a soul food truck in Emeryville up north — may not be open Thanksgiving Day, it will be open on the 23rd for those who want to celebrate a little early.

Founded by Fernay McPherson in 2013, “Minnie Bell’s Soul Movement” is born out of legacy.

“Fernay learned to cook from her great aunt Minnie and late grandmother Lillie Bell,” the website reads. “Fernay’s family arrived in San Francisco during the Great Migration as part of the relocation of more than 6 million African Americans from the rural South to cities in the North and West.”

Minnie Bell’s is located in the Emeryville Public Market at 5959 Shellmound St.

StreetCar (San Diego)

On Nov. 24, they will be hosting a Thanksgiving feast event.

“Bring your friends and family on Thanksgiving Day for a celebratory feast,” their flyer reads.

The event is located at 4002 30th St. and will go from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Founded by Ron Suel and RaVae Smith in 2014, StreetCar specializes in southern cuisine and features an all-day brunch menu.

“You will find classic southern dishes and Louisiana favorites,” their website reads.

ComfortLA (Los Angeles)

In Downtown Los Angeles, ComfortLA is an option for those who want to eat out this holiday as it’s open on Thanksgiving Day.

Located on 1110 E. 7th St., ComfortLA was once a pop-up restaurant founded by Jeremy McBryde and Mark E. Walker.

ComfortLA focuses on taking a clean approach to their menu, sporting a variety of all-natural soul food options.

“We use locally sourced, fresh and organic ingredients and healthier cooking methods to create top-notch, Southern cuisine including ‘Cousin Kina’s Mac ‘n’ Cheese,’ ‘Clean Mean Greens’ and our signature ‘Organic Not Your Average Fried Chicken’ with ‘That Sauce,’” it reads on their website.

They also have an Inglewood location, though that restaurant is not open on Thanksgiving.

Hotville Chicken (Los Angeles)

The last establishment on this list is Hotville Chicken in Los Angeles.

This restaurant is not open the day of Thanksgiving, but patrons can order ahead of time and pick their food up on the 24th.

Hotville, then known as the BBQ Hot Chicken Shack, was founded by Thornton Prince in 1936 in a segregated part of town.

Thornton’s great-great niece Kim Prince now runs the family business.

Their website boasts about how spicy their chicken is, as Thornton’s original recipe focused heavily on a fiery flavor.

“If you’ve never heard about Nashville-style hot chicken, it’s certainly time to get familiar,” it reads.

Prince’s focus is on community, as Thornton’s original chicken recipe “brought people together” even in a divided town.

Hotville is located at 4070 Marlton Ave.

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Advice

Michelle Obama’s New Book Gives Advice on Managing Difficult Times

Author Michelle Obama is a true storyteller, and she uses a “show, not tell” method of writing. Readers are lulled into an entertaining story of life in the White House, or a gossipy snip of Obama’s married life, or a shared memory from her childhood and BAM! the words seamlessly roll over to an easy, do-able tip to survive in hard times. Nice surprise.

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Life and children's games are alike in this way: as in the new book “The Light We Carry” by Michelle Obama, the only way to win is to keep playing.
Life and children's games are alike in this way: as in the new book “The Light We Carry” by Michelle Obama, the only way to win is to keep playing.

By Terri Schlichenmeyer | The Bookworm Sez

Your entire life is like a gigantic game of “Chutes and Ladders.”

Shake the dice, move two steps ahead, and you hit a ladder that takes you to higher places on the game board. Three more squares, and you hit a chute that sends you back to the bottom.

Life and children’s games are alike in this way: as in the new book “The Light We Carry” by Michelle Obama, the only way to win is to keep playing.

Pandemic, recession, political divide, market volatility. For many months, you’ve wondered every morning what fresh chaos you’ll deal with that day. So, what keeps you going? How do we overcome feelings of being “wobbly and unsettled?”

Michelle Obama says she ponders this “a lot.” She thinks about the things she uses to keep her “balanced and confident…moving forward even during times of high anxiety and stress.” She calls them her “personal toolbox” and she shares them in this book.

Most recently, she says, the pandemic taught her the value of having a hobby to relax into, to let her hands work, “my mind trailing behind.” Her early life taught her the value of seeing the difference between real fear and fear of newness and change, the latter of which is surprisingly easy to overcome. Newness offers us “chances to grow.”

“I’ve come to understand,” she says, “that sometimes the big stuff becomes easier to handle when you deliberately put something small alongside it.”

Listen to your body, Obama says, and “pay attention to how you’re feeling.” Collect small boosts and learn to look at yourself in a more positive way. Love your differences and be kind to yourself because it’s “everything.” Be open to connections with others; cultivate friendships you can count on. “Know your own light,” Obama says, and “Share it with another person.”

Be authentic.

And finally, she says, “Tell the truth, do your best by others, keep perspective, stay tough. That’s basically been our recipe for getting by.”

Chances are that at some point in the past nearly three years, you got out of bed one morning and you weren’t even sure why. It’s been a long haul and you’re tired but “The Light We Carry” can get you to the next goal, then the next.

At first glance, it doesn’t look like that kind of a book, though.

Author Michelle Obama is a true storyteller, and she uses a “show, not tell” method of writing. Readers are lulled into an entertaining story of life in the White House, or a gossipy snip of Obama’s married life, or a shared memory from her childhood and BAM! the words seamlessly roll over to an easy, do-able tip to survive in hard times. Nice surprise.

Readers will be further glad to know that this isn’t a cheerleading book. Instead of U-Rah-Rah, it’s U Can Do This, told in a calm, knowing manner. And if that’s what you need in this time of turmoil, let “The Light We Carry” help you back onto the ladder.

“The Light We Carry: Overcoming in Uncertain Times” by Michelle Obama

c.2022, Crown, $32.50, 319 pages.

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Activism

Celebrating Native American Heritage Month, Every Month

In early October, we saw the 30th anniversary of the Berkeley Indigenous People’s Day Powwow and Indian Market. In fact, Berkeley was the first city in the country to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day– five years before the day would become a federally-recognized holiday. San Francisco’s American Indian Film Institute held its 47th film festival this month, continuing the annual celebration of Native cinema and storytelling.

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In early October, we saw the 30th anniversary of the Berkeley Indigenous People’s Day Powwow and Indian Market. In fact, Berkeley was the first city in the country to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day– five years before the day would become a federally-recognized holiday.
In early October, we saw the 30th anniversary of the Berkeley Indigenous People’s Day Powwow and Indian Market. In fact, Berkeley was the first city in the country to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day– five years before the day would become a federally-recognized holiday.

Courtesy of Berkeley News Public Affairs

Vice Chancellor for Equity and Inclusion Dania Matos and Stephen Sutton, vice chancellor for student affairs, sent the following message to the campus community on Nov.16:

November is National Native American Heritage Month. Please join us in celebrating the contributions, traditions, foods, languages, and futures of people across campus who identify as Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nation, or who otherwise identify as indigenous.

We want to recognize the deep and meaningful history of Native Americans and indigenous people in this country, and while celebrating contributions and successes, we also acknowledge that history is fraught, challenges remain, and there is much still to be done. You can read President Biden’s proclamation for this year’s Native American Heritage Month here.

Of course, we would be remiss in not acknowledging that Berkeley sits in the territory known as xucyun (Huichin), and as we write this message, we have a responsibility to create relationships and partnerships with East Bay Ohlone people, lifting up issues that affect those communities, and learning to be better allies with the indigenous people and original stewards of this land.

Native American Heritage Month, every month

We, of course, honor and celebrate Native American people and communities year-round. In September, California Native American Day was observed across California, first created in 1998 to clarify misperceptions about California Indians.

In early October, we saw the 30th anniversary of the Berkeley Indigenous People’s Day Powwow and Indian Market. In fact, Berkeley was the first city in the country to celebrate Indigenous People’s Day– five years before the day would become a federally-recognized holiday. San Francisco’s American Indian Film Institute held its 47th film festival this month, continuing the annual celebration of Native cinema and storytelling.

As we move toward the popular American Thanksgiving holiday, it is important to reflect that there is a spectrum of experiences around this holiday and its meaning. The Alcatraz Indigenous People’s Sunrise Gathering hosted by the Indigenous Treaty Council is one way some indigenous people and allies choose to observe the day. The event seeks to honor traditions of indigenous communities on a day that attention is normally devoted elsewhere. It’s also sometimes referred to as Unthanksgiving Day or Un-Thanksgiving Day.

With the rise in popularity of Land Acknowledgements in recent years, we encourage you to explore this Land Acknowledgement toolkit created to encourage academic communities to recognize the original nations on whose land we live, learn, and work and was created by California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center, and California State University San Marcos’s American Indian Studies department, in partnership with Palomar College and the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association.

Make Time to Visit ottoy

Vincent Medina and Louis Trevino, the chefs behind the 2018 pop-up restaurant Cafe Ohlone, have developed a new collaboration–one that is rooted in healing–with the Hearst Museum of Anthropology and Cal Dining. ottoy is an outdoor dining and educational space located just outside the museum; its name means to repair or mend in Chochenyo. Medina and Trevino’s efforts were recently featured in a Berkeley News story and, on their website, they mention being driven by two goals: “to provide a physical space for our Ohlone people to be represented in the culinary world with a curated space that represents our living culture; and to educate the public, over Ohlone cuisine, in a dignified, honest manner about the original and continuous inhabitants of this land.” Cafe Ohlone remains the only restaurant/food project of its kind in the world today.

Resources, events, and groups

There are many organizations, resources, events, and spaces across campus that are dedicated to people who are Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, First Nation, or who otherwise identify as Indigenous. Initiated by students in 1991, the Indigenous Native Coalition Recruitment and Retention Center provides resources, advocacy, welcoming spaces, and opportunities to prospective and current students (follow them on Instagram!).

The Indigenous Graduate Student Association offers graduate students ways to connect academically, culturally, and socially; the Native American Law Students Association promotes the success of Native students, creates awareness around Native issues, and fosters a positive culture of unity, cooperation, and respect (and it has a great Instagram account!) Indigenous faculty, staff, and postdocs can get involved with the Native & Indigenous Council: a staff organization that supports networking and other community-building opportunities.

The American Indian Graduate Program works to enhance the graduate education experience for Native American students across campus; grow the number of American Indian graduate students who apply, enroll and graduate from UC Berkeley; and support contemporary applications for the Indigenous graduate student experience at UC Berkeley.

The Native American Student Development Office exists to support undergraduate and graduate Native and Indigenous students during their time at UC Berkeley and oversees the Native Community Center.

The Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum join in paying tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans by sponsoring several events throughout the month and information online. Check out the National Native American Heritage Month website. The National Museum of the American Indian is hosting a Native Cinema Showcase Nov. 18 through 25, with films being available on-demand.

This CalMessage was written in partnership with Phenocia Bauerle, Elisa Diana Huerta, and Diana Lizarraga. The Divisions of Equity & Inclusion and Student Affairs offer deep gratitude to this network of people who contributed their insights and expertise.

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