Medical examiner changes report on manner of death

Tuesday, December 21st 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- The state medical examiner's office has changed its report on the 1997 death of Norman businessman Ron Miller to show the manner of death is unknown instead of natural causes and notified Norman police of the change. "At this point, I don't have anything to justify opening any type of investigation on it," Norman police Capt. Steve Schultzsaid Tuesday. "Unless somebody has something else I'm not aware of."

Schultz said police have no forensic evidence that the death wasthe result of any type of foul play. "Without a cause of death, it would be difficult to pursue any type of criminal investigation," he said. Schultz plans to meet with District Attorney Tim Kuykendall about the case Wednesday. A consultant for a law firm representing map makers in a lawsuit over the plane crash that killed former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown in 1996 asked the medical examiner's office to reconsider its finding that Miller's death was due to natural causes.

The consultant asked that the manner of death be changed to unknown since the medical examiners couldn't determine the source of Miller's adult respiratory distress syndrome. The consultant also pointed out that Miller had previously reported death threats to Norman police and had provided the FBI with tape recordings of some business dealings involving Dynamic Energy Resources Inc.

Miller, 58, died in October 1997. He was co-owner of Gage Corp., an energy company that was sold to Dynamic Energy in 1993 in a transaction that has been studied by federal and state investigators. He had filed a lawsuit against Oklahoma Natural Gas, which resulted in an out-of-court settlement involving Dynamic.

Miller tape-recorded business dealings with Nora and Gene Lum, a controversial team of Democratic fund-raisers who owned Dynamic Energy. More than 150 tapes were turned over to the FBI before Miller's death. Miller also turned over boxes of material to a congressional government oversight committee.

The Lums pleaded guilty in 1997 to using straw donors to conceal campaign contributions. An independent counsel had studied whether the Lums had tried to influence Brown by giving his son, Michael, a seat on the company's board. The investigation was turned over the Justice Department after Ron Brown's death.

Consultant Stephen P. Dresch of Hancock, Mich., asked Dr. Fred B. Jordan, the state medical examiner, to change the report. Jordan reclassified the cause of death Dec. 15 and said he wouldnotify the Norman Police Department and the district attorney's office of the change. Schultz received the letter Monday. Jordan pointed out that the original report showed extensive toxicological studies failed to show evidence of a known poison or toxin that could account for Miller's illness but that it didn't rule out a toxin.

"Well, we really don't know what killed him, except it is a form of pneumonia and it is a ... the etiology of what caused this is the problem we are having," said Ray Blakeney, director of operations for the medical examiner's office. "It could have been something natural, something environmental, we just simply don't know." Miller had tape-recorded phone conversations he had involving his business dealings with the Lums and their associates.