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Coroner Contradicts Some Torture Claims By Otto Warmbier's Parents

Ann Thompson
Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco says she can't comment on the parent's perception but in her office "we depend on science."

Hamilton County Coroner Lakshmi Sammarco is disputing remarks by Fred and Cindy Warmbier to Fox & Friends that their son, Otto Warmbier, was tortured.

Fred Warmbier told Fox, "It looked like somebody had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth."

Sammaro said during a Wednesday news conference there was "no evidence of trauma to his lower teeth," according to a forensic dentist. She says extensive medical imaging and a CT scan showed Warmbier's body was in excellent condition for somebody bedridden for a year.

He did, however, have extensive brain damage and was on a feeding tube when he returned to the United States earlier this year.

Sammarco says Otto Warmbier's parents opened the door with the Fox & Friends interview to discuss  whether there were outward signs he was tortured while held in North Korea. That's what prompted her to hold the news conference. "They're grieving parents and I really can't make comments about their perception. All I can tell you is that here in this office we depend on science for our conclusions."

The Wyoming High School graduate and University of Virginia student was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor for allegedly stealing a propaganda poster while visiting there in January 2015.

Warmbier died six days after he was brought back to Cincinnati this past June. Sammarco revealed during the news conference the family removed his feeding tube. She says she doesn't know what caused his brain to be starved of oxygen resulting in the brain damage.

The coroner says Hamilton County's investigation is now closed.

Ann Thompson has decades of journalism experience in the Greater Cincinnati market and brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her reporting.