LEXINGTON COUNTY, SC (WIS) - What killed 43-year-old Vanessa Biery? That question, almost a month after her death, is still unanswered.
The Director of the Cayce Department of Public Safety has said the death is "suspicious" because of who her husband is: Dr. Adam Lazzarini, an orthopedic surgeon, already charged with involuntary manslaughter for another death – the accidental shooting of medical sales rep Player Holland – inside the same home last October.
With Biery's official autopsy still ongoing, the doctor's two attorneys, Jonathan Harvey and Eric Bland, have commissioned their own private autopsy.
"Dr. Lazzarini just happens to be a guy who was in the same place two different times. In October, he was in his house when somebody was accidentally shot. Then, he was present when his wife untimely died in her home," said Bland. "I think it's going to show that there were some medical reasons which were the cause of her death but certainly nothing that was maliciously done to cause an injury externally or internally."
Wednesday, media reports claimed the private autopsy deemed the death "natural." Thursday, the two attorneys clarified.
"We're not trying to find a cause of death, that's not what we're trying to do. We were trying to eliminate the suspicion," Bland said.
When pressed repeatedly, the two wouldn't release a copy of their findings to WIS. They also wouldn't say whether or not their autopsy results included a toxicology test, which is a test for drugs or other chemicals in the bloodstream. It's a test that could explain why Biery died.
"I can assure all those who are interested in the case that what we've commissioned is a full and complete pathology," said Harvey, in part. "The answer, my friend—the wind's blowin', if we could quote Bob Dylan, a great 20th-century poet—the answer is we've requested and have available a complete autopsy."
As for the official autopsy, Lexington County Coroner Fisher said she's waiting on SLED to complete a toxicology test, which should be done in about a week.
Why is a toxicology test important to any coroner? WIS asked Fisher.
"Regardless of the presence or lack of physical evidence of a natural event or condition, accidental injury, or wound of an unknown origin, it is imperative that toxicology testing be performed. Otherwise, it would be impossible to know if a death did or did not result from an accidental overdose or toxic insult. The use of illicit drugs, or misuse of prescription drugs, could also exacerbate a natural condition or act as a catalyst to a sudden fatal event that appears natural," she wrote in a statement.
Meanwhile, the attorney for the family of Holland, also released a statement Thursday.
"There is no new information in Dr. Lazzarini's defense expert's autopsy. They have not addressed or discussed toxicology," Tem Miles, the attorney, wrote. "We hope Dr. Lazzarini had no hand in killing his wife. Regardless of how his wife died, Dr. Lazzarini shot and killed Player Holland."