The Texas judge who opted not to request an autopsy on Antonin Scalia says his doctor assured her the Supreme Court justice had been in poor health.
Scalia was found dead underneath a pillow inside a hotel room at the Cibolo Creek Ranch, a remote, upscale hunting ranch in the west Texas town of Shafter.
Within a few hours of the discovery, Presidio County Judge Cinderela Guevara concluded Scalia had died of natural causes. But Guevara made her assessment by phone, some 65 miles away, due to a Texas law which allows judges to determine a cause of death without actually examining the body.
In a new interview with the New York Times, Guevara says her assessment was based in part on testimony from Scalia’s doctor, who she referred to as a Dr. Monahan. Although the Times was apparently unable to reach the doctor or confirm he’d examined Scalia, Rear Adm. Brian P. Monahan is listed as the attending physician for the Supreme Court.
Guevara says she reached Dr. Monahan by phone around 8 pm Saturday night to discuss Scalia’s various ailments, which reportedly included heart trouble and high blood pressure. She tells the Times the doctor informed her Scalia was also “too weak” to undergo surgery on a recent shoulder injury.
The diagnoses suggest Scalia’s health was on the wane, but his official cause of death may never be medically determined. Guevara declined to request an autopsy and his family reportedly told the funeral home where his body was transferred that they did not want one performed by the state. His body is reportedly set to be cremated.