On Wednesday it emerged that Zachery Tims’ family has been trying to keep the Florida minister's toxicology results confidential, and is possibly considering acquiring a court order to keep the cause of Tims' death private.
The New York Chief Medical Examiner office’s spokeswoman, Ellen Borakove, told the Orlando Sentinel that the toxicology report, which will determine the Florida pastor’s cause of death, is not being released because "the family has expressed some concerns."
After the toxicology results were not released in the last week of September, as scheduled, the press began making inquiries. Borakove broke the silence by announcing why the results were being withheld.
Meanwhile, the Orange-Osceola Chief Medical Examiner Jan Garavaglia commented on the case, telling the Orlando Sentinel that the New York medical examiner may be awaiting a court appeal by the family to keep the results sealed.
She said it is not unusual for a medical examiner to hold up the release of a cause of death when a family says it plans to go to court. It is also not uncommon for family members to request that a cause of death or autopsy results be withheld from the public, she said.
Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department spokeswoman Martha Diaz told The Christian Post Thursday that in Florida, whether or not the family can request the results be available to the public depends on the case. If the family wants to keep the results secret, they can try to request it in writing but they can also go to court and get a legal order, she said.
Otherwise, once the investigation is closed, an interested person can ask for details via a public information request. However, that person has to have a “good reason” for requesting the information.
The protocol differs depending on a state.
In New York, the autopsy and toxicology reports are not public record, Borakove told Orlando Sentinel.
However, Borakove also stated that the cause of Tims’ death – including any presence of poisons, medications, alcohol or illicit drugs his body – and the nature of the white powder that was found on him at the time of death, would be released to the media, the paper reported.
It is being speculated that Tims might have died from drug overdose.
The minister, who was in New York for a speaking engagement, was found on the floor of the W Hotel room on Aug. 12.
Sources close to the investigation told the New York Daily News that a glassine envelope of white powder was found in Tims' right pants pocket.
Church administrators have not commented on the suspicious substance found on Tims, but Bishop T.D. Jakes, who delivered the minister's eulogy during his Aug. 21 funeral, insinuated that Tims struggled with personal problems and was not a perfect man.
The charismatic preacher battled drug addiction before becoming a Christian, a subject which he focuses on his memoir, It's Never Too Late.
Until the results of the toxicology tests are known, however, claims of a drug overdose remain pure conjecture.