Judge approves exhumation of lottery winner's body

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 4:26 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013

CHICAGO (AP) — A judge Friday granted prosecutors permission to exhume the body of a Chicago lottery winner who was fatally poisoned with cyanide just as he was about to collect his $425,000 payout.

Authorities want to do a fuller autopsy on Urooj Khan to confirm earlier but less-thorough toxicology tests, as well as to rule out that natural causes contributed to the 46-year-old's sudden death, according to documents filed with the motion for an exhumation.

Facing dozens of reporters and TV cameras crowded around her outside court after a judge signed off on the request, Khan's sister said the thought of her brother's body being unearthed and reexamined was disturbing — but that the procedure was essential.

"It's very hard," a tearful Meraj Khan said. "I wanted my brother to rest in peace, but we have to have justice served." She added about the exhumation, "It has to be done."

Khan's July 20 death was initially ruled a result of natural causes. But a relative asked authorities to look deeper, triggering more exams that led to the conclusion in November that the businessman was intentionally poisoned.

Cook County's Medical Examiner's Office didn't initially perform a comprehensive autopsy because there were no outward signs of physical trauma and it was thought he died of a cardiac arrest, the state's attorney's motion said.

Khan's sister told reporters Friday that she had received a call from her brother's phone number at 4 a.m. on the day he eventually died. The person on the line was so distraught that she isn't sure who it was.

"I couldn't understand what was happening," she said. "I heard screaming. That's all."

A specific date wasn't immediately set for the exhumation, though medical examiner spokeswoman Mary Paleologos said it should occur by the end of next week. The autopsy would most likely be done the next day, and results would be released two weeks later, she said.

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