What Killed Libby Zion? A Reexamination of the Evidence

                                              By Stephanie Zoe Speken, M.S. (Nutrition)
                                   
    Columbia University, School of Public Health, 1969

 

            When most people remember Libby Zion today, if they remember her at all, they think of the unfortunate young woman whose cocaine use sadly contributed to her death in March of 1984. After all, she tested positive for cocaine, didn’t she? The Medical Examiner’s Office of the City of New York in its official toxicology report of May 8, 1984, stated that cocaine had been found in her body. It was signed by the Chief Toxicologist, the late Dr. Milton Bastos. He said of her premortem blood, "cocaine detected by radioimmunoassay (RIA) and swabs – traces of cocaine detected by RI[A]." Libby Zion was just 18 years old.
            Fredric Rieders, Ph.D., a renowned forensic toxicologist and the defense expert witness, told the Jury that the RIA tests performed on Libby Zion were all positive for cocaine, even those that the Medical Examiner had called questionable. As Dr. Rieders was testifying, Court T.V. flashed a message across the screen – "RIA Test Positive For Cocaine." This was for the entire Nation to see.
            Robert Morgenthau, the District Attorney for New York County, said, "she lied about her drug use." ( Robins, Natalie. The Girl Who Died Twice: The Libby Zion Case And The Hidden Hazards Of Hospitals. New York, N.Y.: Delacorte Press, 1995, p. 204.) Dr. Gregg Stone, a first year resident from New York Hospital who saw Libby Zion on that fateful night in March, 1984, testified, "I think cocaine is what killed this poor girl." (Robins, p. 209)

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