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Coroner's Report: Cocaine, Not US Tourist, Killed Handyman

Anguilla man had taken lethal dose
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 2, 2019 7:07 AM CDT
Scott Hapgood, right, a US financial adviser charged with killing a hotel worker while on vacation in Anguilla, and his lawyer, Juliya Arbisman, left, hold a press conference, Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2019,...   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)
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(Newser) – Connecticut banker Gavin Scott Hapgood is accused of killing a hotel handyman in Anguilla earlier this year but cocaine could have been the real culprit, according to a revised autopsy report. The coroner says the level of cocaine in Kenny Mitchel's blood was twice the level usually considered fatal, meaning the 27-year-old man was likely dying of "acute cocaine toxicity" by the time he allegedly attacked Hapgood in his hotel room, the New York Times reports. Hapgood, 44, was charged with manslaughter after an earlier report from the coroner found that Mitchel died from asphyxiation after a struggle with Hapgood, a former football player. Hapgood told authorities that after Mitchel came to his room saying he needed to fix his sink—which wasn't broken—the handyman threatened him with a knife and demanded money.

Hapgood, who kept Mitchel pinned to the floor until police arrived, told investigators that he had been bitten and stabbed during the struggle. He said he feared for his life and the lives of his two daughters. Lawyers say cocaine use would explain Mitchel's alleged aggressive behavior, which his associates said was completely out of character. After the release of toxicology tests, which also showed Mitchel had been drinking heavily, Hapgood's lawyer said his client "had no choice but to defend himself and his children from the frenzied attack of a man under the influence of a dangerous combination of illegal drugs and alcohol," the Register-Citizen reports. The case has been extremely controversial on the Caribbean island, where residents accused authorities of giving Hapgood preferential treatment after he was bailed and allowed to return to the US. (Read more Anguilla stories.)

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