DALLAS (AP) — Hours after the body of Antonin Scalia was found at a Texas ranch, the Supreme Court justice’s doctor offered an assessment of his health to local authorities for their death investigation. A look at some of the details that emerged this week:
MANY HEALTH PROBLEMS
Scalia, 79, suffered from coronary artery disease, obesity and diabetes, among other ailments that probably contributed to his sudden death, according to a letter from Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan, the attending physician for members of Congress and the Supreme Court. The letter was to Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara, who conducted a death inquiry by phone and certified that Scalia had died of natural causes.
Also mentioned in Monahan’s letter were sleep apnea, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and high blood pressure. Scalia was a smoker, and he had undergone multiple procedures for degenerative joint disease in his spine. The justice suffered a shoulder injury while playing tennis in late 2015 and had decided against surgery.
ROOM WAS ORDERLY
Scalia’s body was found Feb. 13 in his bed at the Cibolo Creek Ranch resort. Nothing appeared out of place in the room, according to the sheriff’s report. Three pillows were stacked to elevate Scalia’s head. A top pillow appeared to have toppled onto his eyes and forehead but didn’t appear positioned to impede his breathing.
His arms were at his side atop the bed covers, which were pulled up to his chin. The covers were smooth and creased and showed no sign of a struggle, the report said.
Next to his bed was a “breathing apparatus,” with the hose for the machine resting on the edge of the bed. It was not clear why Scalia needed the machine, but the device could have been for his sleep apnea.
Scalia’s suitcase was open and contained neatly folded clothing. On the kitchen counter rested a blue stretch exercise band.
Guevara has said she declined to order an autopsy after learning of Scalia’s long list of health problems from Monahan and because Scalia’s relatives didn’t want one.
Texas officials have said certifying a death by phone is not typical but occasionally occurs in rural areas when an official is unable to travel a long distance and must rely on investigators at the scene.
The Texas Department of State Health Services has declined to release a copy of Scalia’s death certificate. Under Texas law, death certificates are confidential and can be released only with the family’s permission.
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