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Doctor Says Jeep Jackson Used Cocaine Hours Before Death

Associated Press

Texas El Paso basketball star Hernell (Jeep) Jackson used cocaine hours before he collapsed and died during a benefit game, a medical examiner said Thursday.

A cocaine byproduct, identified as benzoylecgnonine, was found in urine samples from the body of the UTEP senior, according to a statement by Dr. Juan Contin, El Paso County medical examiner.

An abnormal artery and “very small scars in the muscle of the heart” were also found, Contin said, but he added it is difficult to assess how the cocaine or abnormal artery and scars affected the case.

Meanwhile, grand jurors indicted two women who had been arrested in connection with the case.

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Michelle Cabrera, 19, was indicted on a charge of delivery of a controlled substance, cocaine under 28 grams. Thelma Apodaca, 24, was indicted on two counts of delivery, a clerk at the district attorney’s office said.

Cabrera is free on $100,000 bond, and Apodaca was released from jail earlier this week on $100,000 bond, later reduced to $30,000.

El Paso police Capt. Luis Barba said police expect to conclude the investigation this week after interviewing 20 witnesses. He declined to say who was interviewed, other than Jackson’s teammates Wayne Campbell and Quintan Gates.

Barba said he had no other information about autopsy results.

Contin did not specify how many hours elapsed between the cocaine use and Jackson’s death. He did not elaborate on his statement and did not return phone calls from The Associated Press Thursday.

“The presence of the cocaine byproduct in the urine indicates cocaine use many hours prior to death,” Contin’s statement said. “No cocaine was present in the blood, ruling out its use shortly before death.”

No final conclusion has been reached in the autopsy and it may take several weeks before it is finished, the statement said.

“We haven’t seen the statement,” said Eddie Mullens, UTEP sports information director. “Until we can see that, there’s no way we can respond to it.”

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The university scheduled a news conference to be held today at the office of UTEP President Haskell Monroe, Mullens said.

Jackson, 23, was declared dead at Beaumont Army Medical Center May 2 about an hour after he collapsed during an exhibition game at the Ft. Bliss military facility.

UTEP officials have said Jackson was in excellent health, did not have a history of heart problems and passed three drug tests administered during the basketball season.

Jackson did not take a fourth test after the season was over because he had exhausted his eligibility.

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In an affidavit, police said witnesses told them Cabrera met Jackson at a restaurant near the university the night before his death. The two and others went to Jackson’s apartment where witnesses said Cabrera gave Jackson a substance police believe to be cocaine, and both ingested it.

Police searched the apartment that Jackson shared with teammate Gates and said they found residue of a substance thought to be cocaine.


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