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Jackets pitcher's death linked to heroin

POSTED: June 10, 2008 5:00 a.m.

ATLANTA — A medical examiner's report shows a heroin overdose caused the death of Georgia Tech pitcher Michael Hutts.

The Fulton County Medical Examiner's office released the report Friday. The report offers the final word on what killed the 21-year-old baseball player, who was found dead in his Atlanta apartment on April 11.
Police suspected an accidental drug overdose from the beginning. Hutts' roommate, Ryan Tinkoff, told police Hutts had injected heroin in the past and believed may have used heroin the night of April 10.

But investigators have been sifting through the medical evidence. A preliminary medical examiner's report in early May found Hutts died from acute morphine toxicity. Heroin is a modified form of morphine, and quickly breaks down in the body into morphine.

Still, the possibility had lingered that Hutts died from morphine and not heroin, said Dr. Geoffrey Smith, an associated medical examiner.

It was toxicology results, released Friday, that showed a small amount of actual heroin in a urine sample from Hutts body, as well as the heroin metabolite 6-monoacetylmorphine.

An Atlanta Police spokesman, James C. Polite Jr., said the final report was clearly important information.

"The findings of the medical examiner are crucial in how we investigate," Polite said.

Polite said he did not know if the case's investigators had seen the report, or whether additional detective work into where he got the drugs was going forward.

Hutts grew up in Dunwoody, an Atlanta suburb, and graduated from The Wesleyan School in nearby Norcross. In college, he was listed on the dean's list with a management major last year.

Hutts died less than a week after his best game of the season. On April 6, the reliever threw two scoreless innings against North Carolina, allowing one hit. Overall, he made nine appearances this year.



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