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pleads case on CNN
Posted By Diana Lynne On 10/28/2003 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
In an effort toward damage control amid allegations of abuse and ulterior motives, the husband of the South Florida brain-damaged woman at the center of a 10-year legal battle over her life pleaded his case on CNN’s “Larry King Live.”
After insisting he loved his wife and was simply continuing his legal battle
to have her feeding tube removed out of respect for her wishes, Michael
Schiavo pulled no punches in expressing his animosity toward Terri Schiavo’s
parents and siblings who have consistently blocked his efforts, most recently with the help of Florida lawmakers and Gov. Jeb Bush.
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Michael Schiavo on CNN’s “Larry King Live.” (Photo: St. Petersburg Times)
“They don’t like me because they want the money,” Schiavo told King, in
reference to nearly $1.3 million dollars awarded him and Terri in 1992 as a result of medical-malpractice suits over her brain injury. Schiavo claims the money has been used to fund therapy for Terri and only about $50,000 remains in her
fund. WorldNetDaily has reported, Felos has been paid some $358,000 from the fund and Schiavo’s other attorney reportedly received $80,000. Schiavo added that there is no life insurance policy on Terri’s life and stressed he stands to gain nothing financially from her death.
Throughout the hour-long program last night, Schiavo painted the Schindlers as the money grubbers.
“‘How much money am I going to get?’” Schiavo claims Terri’s father,
Robert Schindler, demanded of him in a conversation Feb. 14, 1993 – three
months after Schiavo received the money.
Robert Schindler at press conference Oct. 14 (photo: Gary McCullough, Christian Communication Network)
Bobby Schindler, Terri’s brother, told WorldNetDaily Schiavo is distorting
the conversation that triggered the rift between the Schindlers and the Schiavos.
“My father was seeking money for Terri’s rehabilitation, which Michael
Schiavo was refusing to give her,” he said, calling Schiavo’s accusation
“In June of 1993, eight months after he got the malpractice money, he tried
to kill Terri by withholding antibiotics needed to treat an infection. There was
$800,000 in the fund at the time,” Bobby Schindler said.
According to court records, the caregivers at the nursing home overruled Schiavo’s order and treated Terri for her infection.
As additional “proof” that he’s not in the legal battle for the money, Schiavo told King he offered three times to donate the money to charity two years ago.
But Bobby Schindler called it a “hollow offer.”
“The offer came with the stipulation that my parents agree to let my sister starve to death. Why would we let her starve to death?,” Schindler told WorldNetDaily. “This is documented. We have the letter from Felos. We even faxed it to Larry King’s producers and warned them he would make this claim. I wish Larry King would have the gumption to ask follow-up questions.”
Allegations of neglect
“She’s never had a bed sore,” Schiavo offered as evidence of his contention he has provided Terri with “perfect care” in the two nursing homes and hospice where she has resided over the past decade.
“Nursing homes are obligated by law to provide a minimum of care,” Schindler countered. “We don’t dispute the care she’s been given. We’ve been asking for therapy, which he hasn’t given her in 10 years.”
According to medical records provided to the family’s attorney, Terri has not received rehabilitative therapy since 1993. In an interview with WorldNetDaily last year, Schiavo insisted he had provided therapy in recent years but would not give details or associated dates.
When asked about this by King, Schiavo similarly asserted Terri had received therapy in the last 10 years and then described the therapy she received in 1991 at a facility in St. Petersburg, Fla., and in Los Angeles, when King asked for details.
“If anyone abandoned her, it’s [the Schindlers],” Schiavo said, adding later “My girlfriend has done more for Terri than her own mother has.” Schiavo also claimed he “could count on one hand” the number of times Bobby had visited his sister “before the media started covering the story.”
Asked about swallow tests the Schindlers sought before the removal of Terri’s feeding tube earlier this month to determine if she would be able to eat on her own, Schiavo said Terri was given three swallow tests. Felos added that when the last one was administered it was recommended she didn’t need further testing.
“The swallow tests were all done prior to 1993,” said Schindler. “I don’t understand how he gets away with saying these things and nobody calls him on anything. He has the luxury of fooling the American public.”
Schindler said Schiavo was further twisting the truth in accusing him of not visiting his sister, when in fact, he was barred by Schiavo for six months from visiting her.
“He doesn’t allow us to do anything for Terri. He’s restricted our visits. We can’t give her therapy. He won’t even let us take her out of her room,” he said.
Terri responding to her mother in video clip available
Schindler pointed to another example of distortion on the part of Schiavo. While only four judges have been involved in adjudicating the case over the past decade – Pinellas County Circuit Court Judge George Greer and three appellate court judges – Schiavo claimed 19 judges had “concluded this is Terri’s wish” and Felos said 20 judges “found Michael Schiavo to be a loving, caring husband.”
“They’re adding up all the judges on the Florida Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court even though those courts refused to hear our case,” said Schindler.
Circuit Court Judge George Greer (Photo: Bay News
Similarly, while Felos gave the impression that “the trial court, the appellate court, the state Supreme Court, the U.S. Supreme Court and the federal circuit court” were involved in adjudicating the case, it has primarily been adjudicated by Greer, starting with his 2000 decision to remove the feeding tube. Since Terri has no written directive on the matter, Greer ruled it was her wish, based on testimony from Michael Schiavo, his brother and sister-in-law that Terri had casually told them she would not want to be kept alive by artificial means.
“I’m going to follow Terri’s wish if it’s the last thing I do,” Schiavo told King, who had difficulty challenging any of Schiavo’s assertions and was surprised to learn he had fathered a child with his girlfriend. Schiavo failed to tell him a second child is on the way.
“You have a choice as a U.S. citizen to refuse treatment,” Schiavo added.
While sticking to this core argument of the right-to-die movement, Schiavo repeatedly attempted to demonize “right-wing” pro-life advocates and accused the Schindlers of being their pawns.
Schindler denied the accusation.
“Our whole focus is Terri. Michael’s whole focus is something else. It seems he has deep-seated hatred for the family and is trying to get back at the family by killing Terri,” said Schindler.
Allegations of abuse
Schiavo’s PR offensive follows damning comments by world-renowned forensic pathologist Michael Baden on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record” hosted by Greta van Susteren Friday night.
WorldNetDaily reported Baden, who is co-director of the Investigative Unit of New York State Police in Albany and former chief medical examiner for New York City, ruled out potassium imbalance and a heart attack as factors in Terri’s mysterious collapse 13 years ago – which left her severely incapacitated and unable to speak – and pointed to head trauma and bone injuries as a more likely cause.
Although never proven, Schiavo told Larry King a potassium imbalance – likely due to bulimia – caused her to suffer cardiac arrest.
Baden said he studied a bone scan made in March 1991 at a rehabilitation facility that describes Terri as having a head injury: “That’s why she’s there, that’s why she’s getting a bone scan.”
“A head injury can … lead to the vegetative state that Ms. Schiavo is in now,” he continued, adding the scan showed evidence of other injuries, bone fractures in her thigh, lower back, ribs and both ankles.
Terri Schiavo before her collapse.
As WorldNetDaily reported, the bone scan surfaced last November during evidentiary hearings on Terri’s current condition and the prospects for rehabilitation.
Coupled with medical records that indicated Terri was admitted to the hospital the night of her collapse with a “suspiciously rigid neck” which two physicians described as being consistent with attempted strangulation, prompted the Schindlers to seek an investigation of the 1990 collapse. Amid strenous objection from Felos, Greer ruled against such a probe.
Bobby Schindler said the refusal to investigate Terri’s collapse casts doubt on Schiavo’s assertion he still loves his wife.
“The broken bones got there somehow,” he said. “It seems to me if I were her husband I would want to find out what happened to her.”
In last night’s interview, Schiavo addressed the strangulation testimony by asking why her neck was not bruised and her trachea damaged.
The CNN show began with Schiavo’s recount of Feb. 25, 1990 – the night of the collapse. According to Schiavo, he heard a “thud” in the hall at 4:30 a.m. and got out of bed to find his wife lying face down on the floor. Schiavo said he rolled her over and saw she was “lifeless” and called 911.
“If Michael rolled her over, then he rolled her back,” Schindler told WorldNetDaily. “He has also stated [in other interviews] that when I showed up he was cradling her in his arms. Now he’s changing his story?”
According to Schindler, Schiavo called Robert Schindler first, who then alerted Bobby because he lived in the same apartment complex as his sister, and then called 911. Bobby Schindler said when he arrived on the scene, Terri was face down with her arms underneath her and her hands up by her neck.
“It’s etched in my mind,” said Schindler, adding that he heard a “gurgling or snoring sound” coming from Terri.
Lie detector test?
Following 45 minutes of a they-said, he-said discussion, in which Schiavo repeatedly accused the Schindlers of lying, King opened the show to callers who asked tougher questions than King.
One caller asked if Schiavo was willing to take a lie detector test. Schiavo responded, “I’ll refrain from answering that right now.”
Meanwhile, Schindler told WorldNetDaily he visited Terri last night and said she was doing “remarkably well” although she seemed “ornery.” He described her as alert and responsive and back to how she was prior to last week’s six-day stint without the feeding tube.
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