As Memphis' Beale Street prepares to remember B.B. King's legacy at a memorial procession Wednesday, the bluesman's estate has hit back at allegations that King's business manager LaVerne Toney poisoned him in the months leading up to his May 14th death. In a statement, a lawyer for the estate says that King's daughters' allegations are "baseless and unfounded and are unsupported in reality."
"Unfortunately even musical icons die. Ms. Toney did everything she could to carry out the wishes of Mr. King while he was alive, and continues to carry out Mr. King's wishes after his death," Brent Bryson, the attorney for King's estate, said in a statement. "I hope over these next few days we can focus on Mr. King's musical gifts to the world and not fictional statements made by those seeking attention at the expense of Mr. King."
Nevada investigators have opened a homicide probe and conducted an autopsy after two of King's daughters, Karen Williams and Patty King, said in separate affidavits that they believe their father was administered an unknown substance on a nightly basis prior to his death. After being hospitalized for dehydration related to diabetes in April, King was later moved to a hospice facility, where King's family claim Toney cut off access to the bluesman.
Williams and Patty King also said in their affidavit that they believe their father was "murdered" by Toney and King's personal assistant Myron Johnson. However, Bryson, the attorney for the King estate of which Toney was appointed executor, provided statements from three doctors, including King's primary care physician, that King "was monitored on a 24-hour basis by Certified Nursing Assistants" and that "no action [was] taken to hasten the demise of Mr. King," who died "peacefully in his sleep."
Larissa Drohobyczer, the attorney representing King's daughters, declined to comment to Rolling Stone when asked about Bryson's statement. The statement, in full, below:
Recently allegations have been made accusing LaVerne Toney of wrongdoing involving the death of Riley B. King (B. B. King). The allegations are baseless and unfounded and are unsupported in reality.
Up until the time that Mr. King passed peacefully in his sleep, Mr. King was monitored on a 24-hour basis by Certified Nursing Assistants.
Additionally, Mr. King was visited regularly by Registered Nurses. Mr. King was evaluated by no less than three (3) independent doctors in the days before his death.
Dr. Darin Brimhall (Mr. King's primary care physician for several years) stated there is no action being taken to hasten the demise of Mr. King and every effort is being made to make Mr. King comfortable and supply him with his regular medication and nourishment."
Dr. Dean Tsai, an independent doctor, asked to render a second opinion stated, "In my medical judgment patient is appropriate for hospice with a very limited expected prognosis (l would estimate weeks). He clearly has had significant decline and I see no reversible component. He is currently getting home hospice care which is entirely appropriate given his known wishes and clinical status."
Dr. Ivan Goldsmith gave a third independent opinion stating: "Home hospice care is entirely appropriate in this situation. There is no evidence of poly pharmacy or inappropriate medications being given to Mr. King."
Unfortunately even musical icons die. Ms. Toney did everything she could to carry out the wishes of Mr. King while he was alive, and continues to carry out Mr. King's wishes after his death. I hope over these next few days we can focus on Mr. King's musical gifts to the world and not fictional statements made by those seeking attention at the expense of Mr. King.