Sunday, July 10, 2005

Governor Bush gives up pursuit of Schiavo case


Governor Bush gives up pursuit of Schiavo case

By Michael Peltier

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) - Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has dropped his pursuit of an investigation into the 1990 collapse of Terri Schiavo after a prosecutor said there was no indication of foul play that led to her irrevocable brain damage.

Bush, who worked hard to keep Schiavo on a feeding tube before her March 31 death, had ordered the probe after an autopsy confirmed she had been in the persistent vegetative state.

Gov. Bush, brother of President Bush and a devout Catholic convert, said there were indications of a 40- to 70-minute gap between the time Michael Schiavo discovered his wife after she collapsed 15 years ago and the time he called for medical assistance.

But Pinellas County State Attorney Bernie McCabe, who conducted the probe, wrote Bush on June 30 that there were explanations "far more likely and logical than any involving criminal wrongdoing" surrounding Schiavo's collapse.

In a reply to McCabe dated July 7, Bush said he would stop the investigation. "Based on your conclusions, I will follow your recommendation that the inquiry by the state be closed," Bush wrote. The letter was distributed on Friday.

Schiavo died of dehydration 13 days after her feeding tube was removed. She was 41.

Her death came after years of legal battles between Michael Schiavo and her parents, Bob and Mary Schindler, over whether to remove the sustenance that was keeping her alive.

The Schindlers' cause was joined by the Vatican and by conservative U.S. politicians, anti-abortion campaigners and pro-life groups.

The autopsy conducted after Schiavo's death did not find what caused her heart to stop and starve her brain of oxygen. At the time of her death, her brain was half the size of a normal brain.

McCabe based his recommendations to Gov. Bush on a report by investigators that found that there was no indication of culpability and that Michael Schiavo's actions following her collapse appeared consistent with a distraught spouse trying to save his wife's life.

"Without proof of criminal agency, there can be no hope of prosecution," the investigators concluded.