10/05/08 — ME says Hulse died of natural causes

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ME says Hulse died of natural causes

By Nick Hiltunen
Published in News on October 5, 2008 7:51 AM

The investigation into the death of popular Goldsboro attorney Bruce Hulse is not closed, but police officials said Friday that the coroner's initial report is showing that he died of completely natural causes.

According to police, although the official report has not been released from state Chief Medical Examiner John Butts' office, state Medical Examiner Dr. Maryanne Gaffney-Kraft verbally told them that the cause of death was a heart-related condition.

It's the same explanation given by Hulse family spokesman, Glenn Barfield, family friend and partner with Geoff Hulse in the firm of Haithcock, Barfield, Hulse & Kinsey.

Bruce, a prominent defense attorney known for his impeccably groomed handlebar mustache, was found unresponsive around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in the back yard of his brother Geoff's East Mulberry Street home. He was transported to Wayne Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead and an autopsy ordered.

"The report will say that there was no trauma of any kind to Bruce's body -- that he died of pre-existing heart disease, that he had an enlarged heart, blocked arteries and that the cause of death is simply natural causes and due to nothing other than those natural causes," Barfield said.

He explained that it was a condition that was unknown to Bruce and his family.

"Bruce Hulse died of a massive heart attack. Unfortunately, Bruce had very, very serious and advanced heart disease," Barfield said. "I don't have any reason to think he knew it -- he wasn't being treated for it -- his heart was very enlarged, his arteries were all clogged. He was in a condition that he could have died (at any) minute, or the next, or the next, he could have been walking the golf course, he could have been (in court)."

Police have given no indication of suspecting any foul play in the death.

"There is no foul play or any sort or any kind suspected in this matter, and certainly there is no foul play suspected on the part of my partner (Geoff Hulse)," Barfield said.

According to a press release from Sgt. Chad Calloway, until all the necessary interviews are complete, the incident is still considered to be under investigation, with the help of the State Bureau of Investigation.

When notified of the incident, the police launched the death investigation, following protocall for all cases in which a death cannot be immediately explained by health conditions or other circumstances.

Barfield, however, had said that he feared that the general public would not know or understand the difference between a death investigation and a homicide investigation.

But according to national guidelines for death investigations, as published by the U.S. Department of Justice, a death investigation is simply begun to determine the cause of death. Only when that cause is determined to not be of natural causes might it turn into a homicide investigation.

In this incident, as police officials have confirmed, the cause of death is being shown as natural.