Injection Apparently Ended Buddy's Pain

Posted: March 21, 1997

DETROIT — Albert ``Buddy'' Miley of Warminster had a needle mark in his left forearm, and was not alone when he died in a Livonia, Mich., hotel room, said officials investigating his apparent assisted suicide.

Miley, 41, a quadriplegic who was paralyzed 23 years ago playing football for William Tennent High School in Bucks County, was found dead Wednesday in the hotel outside Detroit.

A note found near his body referred questions to Dr. Jack Kevorkian's attorney, Geoffrey Fieger.

Fieger refused to say whether Kevorkian, the former pathologist who has acknowledged helping at least four dozen people end their lives, was involved.

``It's a suicide. It's a relief from human suffering,'' Fieger said yesterday, reiterating that Miley traveled to Michigan of his own free will.

Neither Fieger nor police have said how Miley got to the motel.

The official cause of Miley's death will not be known for several weeks, pending results of toxicological tests, officials said.

But a medical examiner who performed yesterday's autopsy said Miley's body was free of any apparent injury that could have caused his death.

There was however, one clue.

``There were numerous scars, signs this individual had suffered neck injuries resulting in quadraplegia, but there were no other possible anatomical signs of death,'' said Dr. Cheryl Loew,assistant Wayne County medical examiner.

Asked if there were any needle marks, Loew said yes.

``There was a needle injection site on his left forearm, a needle puncture wound,'' she said.

In addition, police have determined that Miley probably wasn't alone when he died.

``In the room with the body was a wheelchair, about 10 feet away from the bed where he was found,'' said Livonia police Det. Sgt. Kenneth Marlowe.

``We have determined that, considering the atrophied condition of Miley's legs, there was no way he could have gotten from where the chair was to the bed.''

The case remains officially open, Marlowe said, but no prosecution is expected.

Wayne County Prosecutor John O'Hair could not be reached for comment. But O'Hair has said in the past that he would not prosecute assisted suicide cases.

Miley's body will remain at the medical examiner's office until the autopsy is complete.

Miley's family declined comment, but friends and others close to the family have said that Miley was unhappy for many years and often spoke of suicide.

He suffered from intense pain most of his life.

Miley was injured in 1973, when he was tackled on the football field, flipped over onto his head and broke his neck.

At 17, he learned he would be paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life. He had dreamed of becoming a professional football or baseball player.

``He came to Michigan because we have the right to make a decision about undue suffering,'' Fieger said.

``All these people who would bar assisted suicide are religious bigots. They'd rather see Buddy Miley suffer for 40 more years.''

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