A second autopsy on the wife of Dr. Adam Lazzarini, a hip surgeon at Lexington Medical Center, shows she most likely died of natural causes, Lazzarini's lawyers said Wednesday.
The autopsy results for 43-year-old Vanessa Biery are significant because Cayce police have implied Lazzarini might be implicated in his wife's death, said the doctor's Columbia lawyers, Eric Bland and Jonathan Harvey, who said they paid for the second autopsy.
The autopsy showed Lazzarini's wife of 10 years likely died of natural causes — heart and liver issues, Bland and Harvey said.
On May 1, paramedics were called to Lazzarini's Cayce home and found Biery unresponsive. She later died, and police ordered an official autopsy.
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Later Wednesday, Lexington coroner Margaret Fisher issued a news release saying, no "obvious cause of death" was found in the official autopsy, conducted May 3. As a result, she added, "further studies, including toxicology testing, are being performed in order to determine the definitive cause of Mrs. Biery's death."
While investigating Biery's death, Cayce police said they found evidence implicating Lazzarini, 46, in the shooting death of William Player Holland, 30.
Holland died last October during a visit to Lazzarini's home. The two men were friends, and police originally classified Holland's death as accidental.
However, several days after Biery died, Cayce police charged Lazzarini with involuntary manslaughter in Holland's death. A warrant in the case said the doctor "lied to investigators by providing false ... versions of the incident."
Police said Lazzarini, who has a 5-year-old daughter, was under the influence of alcohol when he fired a handgun that he had pointed by Holland's chest.
Because of that criminal charge, Lazzarini's medical license was suspended. Lexington Medical Center, where Lazzarini worked in the sports orthopedics department, also suspended Lazzarini from practicing at that hospital.
Last week, Lazzarini, who is out of jail awaiting trial on a $250,000 bond, had his medical license reinstated. But a 23-member board of Lexington Medical Center physicians voted unanimously Monday to block Lazzarini from returning to work, Lexington Medical said in a statement.
Bland and Harvey said they will appeal the board's decision.
The lawyers also said they are seeking a preliminary hearing on the involuntary manslaughter charge. Involuntary manslaughter is an accidental death that results from someone's negligence.
At the preliminary hearing, police will have to give a summary of the evidence they used to bring the involuntary manslaughter charge against Lazzarini. Then, Lazzarini's lawyers can question the police. At the hearing's end, a judge will rule on whether the case can go forward or is dismissed.
Cayce police are trying to force a square peg into a round hole, Bland said. The deaths of Holland and Biery might seem to be related — even suspicious, the attorney said. But, he added, "Once you peel back the onion, what you have are two unrelated events, which are not related in any way."
"Nobody needs to make more out of (Vanessa Biery's) death than it already is, which is the untimely death of a young woman," Bland said, adding Lazzarini "has nothing to hide. He is defending himself and his family."
The second, private autopsy was done by Dr. James Fulcher, the same pathologist who examined the body of Zachary Hammond, shot and killed by a Seneca policeman in 2015. Police originally said Hammond was shot in the front. But Fulcher's autopsy showed that was not true, leading to a $2..1 million settlement by the town of Seneca.