Legal Dispute Over B.B. King's Last Days Gets Uglier

Lawyers for both King's manager and family issue competing statements over care and treatment of iconic bluesman

Lawyers for B.B. King's family and business manager have issued competing statements on the treatment of the bluesman during his final days. Credit: Paul Warner/WireImage

The attorney representing B.B. King's daughters has fired back at the bluesman's business manager and her legal team, claiming that they are "dragging mourning daughters through the mud" over allegations that the guitarist was poisoned.

King's daughters, Karen Williams and Patty King, previously said in separate affidavits that they believe King's manager LaVerne Toney and personal assistant Myron Johnson administered an unknown substance to King on a nightly basis prior to his death. "I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances," King's daughters said in identical statements. "I believe my father was murdered."

"The allegations are baseless and unfounded and are unsupported in reality," Brent Bryson, a lawyer for the estate, previously said Tuesday. "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." Bryson claimed that three doctors all evaluated King shortly before his death, with the musician's primary care physician claiming that there was "no action being taken to hasten the demise of Mr. King."

"Karen and Patty have nothing to gain financially by getting [the] truth on how their father died. Nothing," Larissa Drohobyczer, the attorney for Williams and Patty King, writes in a new statement to Rolling Stone. "Mr. Bryson is unnecessarily dragging mourning daughters through the mud for no apparent reason.

"Not one family member was allowed to see B.B. for a week prior to his death, not even his friends," Drohobyczer adds. "That really hurt and angered Karen and Patty deeply. Ms. Toney kept B.B.'s family from him and he died without one family member by his side. That is what raised reasonable suspicion as to his cause of death for Patty and Karen. My clients just want answers."

In a new statement to Rolling Stone, Bryson refuted Drohobyczer's claims that Toney banned family members from seeing the ailing musician, claiming that King's granddaughter Valerie Byrd visited King before he died. "Mr. King saw who he wanted to see," Bryson says. "Ms. Toney did not influence Mr. King in any way."

King's death was listed as multi-infarct dementia, a series of small strokes caused by the singer's battle with type 2 diabetes. John Fudenberg, the coroner for Clark County, Nevada, told CNN that there was "no evidence to substantiate the [poisoning] allegations," but the full results of King's autopsy will not be available for six to eight weeks. Bryson claims that King was constantly being monitored "so such conduct would have been observed by a neutral party."

"Just because someone is already dying doesn't mean they can't be killed!" Drohobyczer writes. "This happens quite often...I think a reasonable person [would] be concerned if they were unable to see their loved one the entire time he/she was in hospice. My clients have not made public accusations about criminal activities; they just want the matter investigated and they want peace."

"They accused my client of murder by poisoning Mr. King," Bryson retorts. "They inserted themselves into this matter by making unfounded and spurious allegations incapable of being substantiated because the conduct never occurred.

"Ms. Toney has been severely disparaged, defamed, slandered and caused to suffer emotional distress all as a result of the untrue extreme and outrageous comments made by Patty, Karen and their attorney," Bryson says. "Those issues will be dealt with at an appropriate time. Let our attention be presently focused on Mr. King."