Jeffrey Epstein’s death has been ruled a suicide.
Epstein, who was found in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City earlier this month and transported to a local hospital, hanged himself, NYC Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Barbara Sampson said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.
The billionaire financier was discovered in cardiac arrest nearly a month after he was arrested for allegedly sex-trafficking girls as young as 14, and died in the hospital, CNN reported at the time.
Epstein’s lawyers, Martin G. Weinberg, Reid Weingarten and Michael Miller, said that his defense team intends to conduct their own investigation into their client’s death.
“First, no one should die in jail,” they said in a joint statement, according to New York Times reporter Michael Gold, who shared their statement on Twitter.
“And no one, not Mr. Epstein who was presumed innocent and had violated no prison disciplinary rule, and not anyone should be imprisoned under the harsh, even medieval conditions at the MCC where Mr. Epstein spent his final hours,” the statement continued. “His safety was the responsibility of the MCC. It is indisputable that the authorities violated their own protocols.”
“The defense team fully intends to conduct its own independent and complete investigation into the circumstances and cause of Mr. Epstein’s death including if necessary legal action to view the pivotal videos — if they exist as they should — of the area proximate to Mr. Epstein’s cell during the time period leading to his death.”
“We are not satisfied with the conclusions of the medical examiner,” the statement concluded. “We will have a more complete response in the coming days.”
At the time of Epstein’s death, Attorney General William P. Barr said that he was “appalled” to learn of Epstein’s death while in federal custody, adding that his death “raises serious questions that must be answered.”
Others, including New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, echoed Barr’s sentiment.
De Blasio told the New York Times that Epstein’s death seemed “too convenient,” and that he didn’t understand how he could have been left unsupervised long enough to end his life.
“It’s too many pieces happening simultaneously that don’t fit,” de Blasio said. “It’s just not a believable situation that there wouldn’t be an intense and careful effort to watch him.”
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“A lot of times, folks fall into conspiracy theories that instantly fall apart and sound extreme,” the mayor added. “But in this case, the facts themselves don’t make sense on their face.”
Two weeks before Epstein died, he was found lying in the fetal position in his cell, with marks on his neck, NBC 4 reported at the time. The local outlet said that Epstein was semi-conscious when found, and Radar Online reported that the medical emergency was a result of a suicide attempt.
Epstein was accused of sex-trafficking girls as young as 14 years old, PEOPLE confirmed in July, and was considered a flight risk and danger to the community by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman, who ordered that Epstein remain behind bars pending trial.
Epstein’s lawyers had planned to appeal that ruling, according to NBC4.
Epstein allegedly “sexually exploited and abused dozens of minor girls at his homes,” according to the federal indictment, which was unsealed on July 8, and was charged with one count of sex-trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to engage in sex-trafficking of minors. If he had been convicted, he faced a maximum sentence of 45 years in prison.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “home” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.
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