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Poplar Bluff man found dead likely died from heart attack

Friday, April 1, 2011

POPLAR BLUFF, Mo. -- A heart attack brought on by an altercation with a Doniphan, Mo., man is the preliminary cause of death for a local man found dead earlier this week behind the former Pear Tree Inn on North Westwood Boulevard.

Dr. Russell Deidiker performed an autopsy Wednesday morning on Roger Easley, 68, at Mineral Area Regional Medical Center in Farmington, Mo.

"Preliminarily, it looks like a heart attack due to hypertension" is the cause of death, which was brought on "due to the altercation," according to Butler County Coroner Jim Akers. "The manner [of death] will still be homicide."

Easley and Benjamin Kenneth Redden, who authorities describe as acquaintances that met at a bar earlier in the night, allegedly got into an altercation over marijuana near the intersection of Business 60 East and Route N early Tuesday morning.

Redden admitted to officers he repeatedly struck Easley, who collapsed, and put Easley in his vehicle to take him to the hospital.

While en route to the hospital, Redden reportedly called Shawn Richardson, who authorities say convinced him to take a bleeding and unresponsive Easley to the former Pear Tree Inn.

After reportedly removing Easley from Redden's vehicle, he left Easley with Richardson and Stevie Marie Kara. CPR reportedly was administered and 911 was called at about 12:40 a.m. Tuesday.

Easley was taken to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

A CT scan subsequently was performed Tuesday, which, Akers said, showed no skull fractures or internal bleeding.

"I can rule out blunt force trauma as the cause of death" after the autopsy confirmed what was suspected following the CT scan, said Akers.

The foreign body found in Easley's larynx on the CT scan was a tooth, Akers said. "It did not block the airway enough to cause death; it was not a contributing factor," he said.

Deidiker, Akers said, took blood samples for toxicology analysis, and as well as other samples he will look at under a microscope.

The preliminary cause of death, he said, could change "if the toxicology shows something else or [Deidiker] sees something else under the scope."

As Akers awaits Deidiker's final autopsy report, "I will be looking at whether to have a coroner's inquest on this," Akers explained. "I will be having meetings with the prosecutor after we get the complete autopsy report. That could be a couple of weeks down the line."

No charges have been filed against Redden in connection with the alleged assault/death. The 20-year-old remains in the Butler County Jail on a Probation & Parole hold.

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