Coroner rejects request for inquest

Jan. 17, 2002 at 6:40 PM
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GOLDEN, Colo., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A Colorado coroner said Thursday that he would not order an inquest into the death of one of the 12 students killed in 1999 at Columbine High School.

Jefferson County Coroner Carl Blesch said he did not want to conduct an inquest while other investigations were under way. He also said it could not answer all the questions about Daniel Rohrbough's death.

Rohrbough's parents believe he was accidentally shot by a Denver tactical officer stationed outside the suburban Denver school, not by the two students blamed for the nation's deadiest school shooting.

The Rohrboughs want a broader investigation than an inquest to answer questions about their 15-year-old son's death and an alleged cover-up by police.

"We can test the honesty of people much better in a deposition environment," Brian Rohrbough, the boy's father, told The Denver Post.

The Jefferson County sheriff's office said Rohrbough was killed by Dylan Klebold, who along with Eric Harris opened fire in the school April 20, 1999, killing a dozen students and a teacher before taking their own lives.

An autopsy determined that Rohrbough was shot three times, but two of the bullets passed through his body and were not found. Tests on the third bullet were not conclusive in determining the gun used.

Gov. Bill Owens and Attorney General Ken Salazar had urged Blesch to conduct the inquest to answer the lingering questions about Rohrbough's death. Salazar believed the inquest was the best way to get at all the facts in the shooting in a public forum.

Earlier this week, the Rohrbough family asked Blesch to delay the inquest while other options were pursued. They may include a possible state legislative investigation, convening a federal grand jury or reinstatement of the family's wrongful-death lawsuit against the sheriff. A federal judge dismissed the lawsuit two months ago.

An Arapahoe County deputy sheriff was fired Jan. 9 because of conflicting statements he had given the Rohrbough family and his superiors about the boy's shooting. Sheriff Pat Sullivan said Deputy Jim Taylor lied when he told the family he had seen the boy shot outside the school. Taylor declined to comment on his dismissal.

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