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Just Toxicology Tests, No Criminal Probe of Cardinal’s Death, Says Montco DA

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(Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman.  Credit: Brad Segall)

(Montgomery County DA Risa Ferman. Credit: Brad Segall)

Brad Segall Brad Segall
Brad Segall is the award-winning Suburban Bureau chief at KYW...
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By Brad Segall and Steve Tawa

NORRISTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — Montgomery County’s district attorney says her office is not conducting a criminal investigation into the recent death of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua.

DA Risa Ferman says she found the timing of the cardinal’s death “peculiar,” given it was less than a day after he was ruled competent to be called as a witness in a criminal trial in Philadelphia surrounding child abuse allegations (see related story).

Ferman says she suggested the county coroner conduct an investigation of the body but never requested an autopsy.

“My determination that something ought to be examined was simply my determination based on my experience in law enforcement, and wanting to put the matter to bed if we could do that,” she told reporters today.

Ferman says that as far as she knows, an autopsy was not done.

The coroner has deferred making a ruling on the cause of death until he sees the results of toxicology tests (see related story).

Ferman says that unless and until the coroner finds something that suggests the death was anything other than natural causes, she needs to go no further.

In an interview with KYW’s Steve Tawa, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia says the archdiocese understands the role and responsibility of Montgomery County officials in being thorough.

And spokeswoman Donna Farrell says the archdiocese hopes the matter is quickly concluded.

Farrell says the coroner’s office was at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary on January 31st, the night the 88-year-old prelate died.  The next day, the coroner’s office instructed the funeral home to bring the cardinal’s body to the medical examiner’s office.

Farrell says the archdiocese provided the coroner’s office with medical notes and a list of the medicines that Bevilacqua had ingested in the threee weeks before his death.

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