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Judge OKs Exhumation Of Poisoned Lottery Winner’s Body

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Urooj Khan. (Credit: Illinois Lottery)

Urooj Khan. (Credit: Illinois Lottery)

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Updated 01/11/13 – 4:03 p.m.

CHICAGO (CBS) – A Cook County judge has given authorities permission to exhume the body of a man who died from cyanide poisoning last July, less than a month after winning a $1 million jackpot in an instant Lottery game.

Urooj Khan, 46, won a Lottery scratch-off game in June, after buying a ticket at a 7-Eleven in Rogers Park.

He died before collecting his $425,000 in winnings, after taxes, and his death was initially ruled to be the result of natural causes. But relatives asked for a complete autopsy, which months later determined he died from cyanide poisoning.

The Cook County Medical Examiner’s office later sought to have Khan’s body exhumed to determine exactly how the cyanide got into his system.

A Cook County judge agreed Friday morning to have Khan’s body exhumed, after there no objections from attorneys for Khan’s family members and his estate.

The medical examiner’s office tentatively scheduled the exhumation for Thursday. Spokeswoman Mary Paleologos said a new examination of Khan’s body would happen the next day.

Court documents say Khan’s wife tried to cash his lottery check, but one of his brothers filed a court petition to deposit it into Khan’s estate account. He wanted to make sure Khan’s daughter, from a previous marriage, got her fair share of the money.

Khan’s family said they’re glad they might finally get some answers about how he died.

“We’re glad, and finally we’ll know what happened,” Khan’s brother-in-law Mohammad Zaman said. “They’re professional, they know what to do, they know their work, so we’re not worried about that part. We’re just devastated, because it happened.”

Khan’s sister, Meraj Khan, said, “I’m kind of glad they’re going to exhume it. They’re going to find more details, but I can’t really share anything at this time, because it’s under investigation. And the truth will come out, and you all will know.”

Authorities have not named any suspects, but want to talk to his father-in-law, who owed more than $120,000 in back taxes at the time of Khan’s death.

Khan’s widow, Shabana Ansari, also has hired a criminal defense lawyer. She’s said she’s eager for authorities to learn the truth about her husband’s death.

Ansari, 32, has said she she prepared her husband’s final meal on the day he died, but said she had nothing to do with her husband’s death.

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