TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Gov. Jeb Bush has declared an end to the state’s inquiry into Terri Schiavo’s collapse 15 years ago, after Florida’s state attorney said there was no evidence that criminal activity was involved.
Mr. Bush had asked State Attorney Bernie McCabe to investigate Mrs. Schiavo’s case after her autopsy last month. He said he now considers the state’s involvement with the matter finished.
“Based on your conclusions, I will follow your recommendation that the inquiry by the state be closed,” Mr. Bush said in a two-sentence letter.
In asking Mr. McCabe to look again into how Mrs. Schiavo slipped into a persistent vegetative state, Mr. Bush had cited a purported gap between when Mrs. Schiavo’s husband, Michael, found her and when he called 911. The governor had said the issue remained unsettled.
Mr. McCabe said, however, that while such discrepancies may exist in the record, Mr. Schiavo’s statements that he called 911 immediately had been consistent.
“This consistency, coupled with the varying recollections of the precise time offered by other interested parties, lead me to the conclusion that such discrepancies are not indicative of criminal activity,” Mr. McCabe wrote in a letter to the governor accompanying his report.
The report was dated June 30, but it was not released until Thursday.
The bitter right-to-die case engulfed the courts, Congress and White House, and divided the country.
Mrs. Schiavo died March 31 from dehydration after her feeding tube was disconnected despite efforts by Mr. Bush, her parents and some lawmakers to keep her alive.
Mr. Schiavo had fought to have the tube disconnected, saying his wife wouldn’t have wanted to be kept alive artificially.
The autopsy left unanswered the question of why Mrs. Schiavo’s heart temporarily stopped, cutting off oxygen to her brain. A medical examiner was unable to determine with reasonable certainty a “manner of death.”
Mr. McCabe said there must be some fact or evidence indicating a criminal act caused the death to open a full homicide investigation. He said the review revealed none.
He added that the most likely cause of Mrs. Schiavo’s collapse remains the one already advanced — an eating disorder.
David Gibbs, attorney for Mrs. Schiavo’s parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, said the report appeared rushed, noting that they were not interviewed by the state attorney’s office. “We had thought they would meet with the family,” he said.
Mr. Schiavo’s attorney deferred comment until he had a chance to fully review the report.