Autopsy on Christian Brando inconclusive

January 29, 2008 6:36:08 PM PST
An autopsy on the body of Christian Brando did not immediately determine what killed the son of the late actor Marlon Brando, authorities said Tuesday.

Christian Brando died Saturday at a Los Angeles hospital. The cause of death was listed as deferred, pending results of toxicology tests that may determine whether Brando had prescription or other drugs in his system and whether a medical condition was involved, Los Angeles County coroner's official Ed Winter said.

Results should be available in six to eight weeks.

The autopsy was requested "based on his past drug history," Los Angeles County coroner's Lt. Fred Corral said Monday.

An attorney for Marlon Brando's estate said the 49-year-old died of pneumonia.

Lawyer David J. Seeley said that Christian Brando's mother, Anna Kashfi, requested the autopsy and that neither the estate nor its beneficiaries were involved in the decision.

"At this point, we have no reason to question the hospital's actions and the cause of death," Seeley said.

Christian Brando was one of nine children named as beneficiaries of Marlon Brando's trust. The Oscar winner noted in his will, released after his death in 2004, that he had 11 children, including daughter Cheyenne, who committed suicide in 1995, and an adopted daughter who was not a beneficiary.

Kashfi and Marlon Brando divorced after a year of marriage.

Christian Brando's former attorney, Benjamin Brin, said Tuesday that Brando's longtime girlfriend, Donna Goans, had been making funeral arrangements when the mother demanded the autopsy.

Mother and son were estranged for 20 years, Brin said. He called the situation "very sad" and dismissed the value of an autopsy.

"We all know 49-year-old people aren't supposed to die," Brin said. "We're going to find out what was different about him. There'll be some explanation. It may be his, you know, partying ways in the past. It may be even something more recent that some people will find pruriently interesting. It won't bring him back."

Christian Brando's ex-wife Deborah sued the executors of Marlon Brando's estate Monday, claiming she is a victim of professional negligence, fraud and deceit.

She claims that as part of a February 2007 settlement with Christian Brando in a domestic violence case, she would become assignee of her ex-husband's rights and claims in the estate.

Deborah Brando accused producer Mike Medavoy and fellow executors Larry J. Dressler and Avra Douglas of executing a forged codicil to Brando's will days before the actor's death on July 1, 2004.

"The will was forged ... designed to separate and alienate (Deborah Brando) from others in Marlon Brando's close and extended family, friends, and business acquaintances, and to keep them from challenging the will or trust," the lawsuit said.

The estate will "vigorously defend" against the lawsuit, Seeley said.