Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard has agreed to the exhumation of Ashley “A.J.” Jewell’s body and a second autopsy to confirm a rare sickle cell trait killed him.
Howard told AJC.com in an e-mail Friday afternoon that he “tentatively” agreed to Jewell’s family’s request for two reasons.
“First, the Jewells are dissatisfied with the current autopsy findings. Second, and most important, is the unusual cause of death – that being the sickle cell crisis,” Howard said Friday.
The case was being “expedited” and the medical examiner’s office had agreed a second opinion was needed, Howard said. The DA will have to get a court order before Jewell's body can be exhumed.
Jewell -- a former fiancé of a cast member on the reality television show The Real Housewives of Atlanta -- died Oct. 2 after a fight in a strip club parking lot.
According to the report on his autopsy, Jewell had a rare sickle cell trait and that was the primary cause of his death. Still, the Fulton medical examiner said it was a homicide.
“[Jewell's family does not] believe what is in the ME’s report,” said Markel Hutchins, a spokesman for Jewell’s family.
Hutchins said the ME’s findings are a “direct contradiction to what medical experts” have told Jewell’s family.
Hutchins says the family suspects Jewell’s death was related to events that came “before and after” the fight.
Hutchins would not elaborate but he said Jewell’s family gave the police that information during an hour-and-a-half meeting with Chief Richard Pennington Friday morning. The police department confirmed there was a meeting but would not provide any details.
Police charged Frederick Richardson, a manager at the Body Tap, with voluntary manslaughter because he fought Jewell just before his died. Richardson is free on bond while prosecutors decide if they will pursue a case against him.
Howard has said his office will decide if Richardson will be prosecuted based on the findings of a second autopsy.
Jewell – engaged to The Real Housewives of Atlanta cast member Kandi Burruss until August -- was trying to buy an interest in the club and he had an ongoing struggle with Richardson for control at the northwest Atlanta club, police said following the fight.
Police said Jewell may have started the fight because he didn’t think he was getting enough respect from Richardson.
Richardson’s lawyer, Dennis Scheib, said Jewell pulled a gun on Richardson while the two were in an office at the club that evening and then followed Richardson to the parking lot. Scheib said Jewell hit Richardson twice before Richardson could strike back.
Jewell died later at Piedmont Hospital.
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