Medical examiner: Cause of 7-year-old Margate boy’s death is ‘undetermined’

South Florida Sun Sentinel
By Sofia Santana

FORT LAUDERDALE – Does a 7-year-old understand suicide?

Unable to answer that question scientifically, the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office has decided not to rule a Margate boy’s hanging death earlier this year a suicide. The manner of death has been listed as “undetermined,” Broward Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Joshua Perper said Thursday.

“The medical examiner who did the autopsy, [Dr. Stephen Cina], looked at the case very carefully,” Perper said. “Whether at age seven a child has the capability to appreciate the results of his actions, some people may say yes, some people would say no.”

Police and prosecutors, meanwhile, are still investigating the unusual death of Gabriel Myers, who was living in a foster home and had been given a prescription for Symbax, a powerful mind-altering drug not recommended for children.

At the time of his death on April 16, Gabriel was home with only the 19-year-old son of his foster father. Gabriel got upset with the young man during lunch, locked himself in the bathroom and said he was going to kill himself. The 19-year-old used a screwdriver to pick the lock and found Gabriel hanging from a shower hose, the state’s Department of Children & Families reported. Gabriel was pronounced dead one hour later at Northwest Medical Center in Margate.

The child did not have a history of suicidal thoughts or tendencies, which further encouraged medical examiners to be very cautious in their ruling on the death, Perper said.

Gabriel, whose mother was a drug addict and father is in prison, was placed in DCF custody in October 2008. He lived first with relatives before being placed with the Margate foster family, with whom he lived for only three weeks.

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