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Witness Blames Kelly Thomas' Death On His Weak Heart, Not The Brutal Beating

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Snapshot from a security camera foottage that shows Fullerton police officers beating Kelly Thomas on May 7, 2012 (Photo by Joshua Sudock-Pool/Getty Images)
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A heart specialist on the witness stand today said he believed the main reason Kelly Thomas' died was due to his weak heart caused by long-term meth use. The ongoing trial involves two Fullerton police officers charged with the brutal beating of a mentally-ill and homeless man to death.

Manuel Ramos, 39, and Jay Cicinelli, 41 are charged for using excessive force on Thomas while on duty. The victim was hurt so badly in the altercation that he was in a coma for five days before he died.

Dr. Steve Karch, who is a medical consultant studying the effects of meth-use on the heart, said Thomas had suffered from methamphetamine cardiomyopathy—an enlarged heart from the effects of drug abuse, according to KPCC. He had studied the coroner's slides of Thomas' heart, and also mentioned he had been paid $750 an hour by the defense for his research and testimony.

This defense contradicts the Orange County Coroner's Office that Thomas died from a lack of oxygen to the brain due to the compression to his chest and his heavily injured face, reported City News Service.

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Karch added that Thomas was going through a spontaneous psychotic episode at the time and that was one of the reasons he got into the altercation with the police. "I can't imagine a situation where I would try to fight with six policemen,'' Karch said, according to City News Service. "I wouldn't reckon my odds were very good even if I were 40 years younger."

Despite a 33-minute video that showed the brutal beating, defense attorneys have been trying to show Thomas' drug-use history and schizophrenic episodes with witnesses and family. However, the Los Angeles Times reported that a toxicology report showed that Thomas didn't have any drugs in his system that night.

There will be a two-week break in the trial due to the holidays and will resume in January for closing arguments.

Related stories:
Grandfather Testifies Kelly Thomas Attacked Him With A Fireplace Poker
Defense Attorney Says Officers Actually 'Weren't Using Enough Force' In Brutal Kelly Thomas Beating