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Jury can't decide on cause of death for Woolmer

11/28/2007 - Cricket

KINGSTON, Jamaica -- An inquest into the death of Pakistan
cricket coach Bob Woolmer ended in indecision Wednesday evening,
when a Jamaican jury was unable to determine the cause of death
after hearing testimony from more than 50 people over five weeks.

The 11-member panel deliberated for about four hours before
returning an "open" verdict, which means jurors decided they had
not heard sufficient evidence to declare Bob Woolmer's death an
accident, a homicide or the result of natural causes.

The jury foreman, who refused to give his name to reporters,
said the panel felt there were too many contradictions to reach a
clear conclusion.

"We came to an open verdict because the evidence presented to
us was very weak. There were too many what-ifs and too many
loopholes," he said.

According to police it now will be up to Jamaica's coroner,
Patrick Murphy, to decide the cause of death.

The inquest was triggered by wide-ranging speculation about what
killed the 58-year-old coach.

Woolmer was found unconscious in his Kingston hotel room March
18, a day after his heavily favored team was ousted from the
Cricket World Cup.

Four days later, a
government pathologist ruled he had been strangled, launching a
globe-spanning probe.

In an embarrassing reversal, Jamaican police announced nearly
three months after launching the probe that Woolmer was not the
victim of foul play, saying three independent pathologists from
Britain, South Africa and Canada concluded the coach died from
natural causes, most likely heart disease.

In his testimony at the inquest, Jamaica's pathologist, Dr. Ere
Sheshiah, stood by his contention that Woolmer had been strangled
and said he had also been poisoned by a pesticide.

Specialists outside the government said Sheshiah misinterpreted
his own findings and his medical techniques did not meet
international standards. Independent tests on Woolmer's stomach
samples found no traces of the pesticide.