Brittany Murphy's father sues coroner over death investigation
The father of the late actress Brittany Murphy is suing the Los Angeles Police Department and coroner's office for their investigation involving his daughter's death.
In the lawsuit, Angelo Bertolotti claims that the police and Los Angeles coroner's office failed to properly investigate the circumstances surrounding her untimely death two years ago. The coroner determined Murphy suffered from "community-acquired pneumonia" and "iron deficiency anemia."
Her death was ruled an accident and the result of drug intoxication.
Bertolotti believes Murphy's moldy home is to blame. Coroner's officials said they ruled out that possibility during its investigation.
"He's grieving his daughter's death," said Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter. "I don't blame him [for filing the suit.]"
Bertolotti claims the coroner refused repeated requests to test Murphy's hair for poisons, toxins or heavy metal. He is now seeking to access the specimens so he can have an independent lab conduct a toxicology test.
Winter said he met with Bertolotti several times before and after the autopsy results were revealed. In one exchange, Bertolotti told Winter he wanted to test the samples for paternity. Winter told him to either provide a birth certificate stating he was next of kin or to get a court order.
Winter acknowledged that the coroner's office did not test the hair samples, but said arsenic poisoning was never raised as a possible contributing factor to her death.
"We never tested for that because there was nothing that led us to believe that [she died of arsenic poisoning]," he said.
Murphy, best known for her role in "Clueless," passed out in her Hollywood Hills home on Dec. 20, 2009, after experiencing flu-like symptoms. She was pronounced dead at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
Five months later, her husband, British screenwriter Simon Monjack, mysteriously died. Like Murphy, his autopsy report concluded pneumonia and anemia caused his death.
Bertolotti and Brittany's mom, Sharon Murphy, believe toxic mold in their daughter's home killed the couple. Last year, the family settled with the home's builders over its defects, and agreed not to sue the builders in connection with Murphy's death. Sharon Murphy filed a suit in December against her lawyers for malpractice, claiming they tricked her into settling.
-- Angel Jennings
Photo: Brittany Murphy in the 2002 movie "8 Mile." Credit: Eli Reed / Universal Studios