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Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Police: Not enough evidence to prove former Chesapeake Energy CEO’s death intentional

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — Investigators did not find enough evidence to prove whether a vehicle crash that killed prominent businessman Aubrey McClendon the day after he was indicted by a grand jury was intentional or not, the Oklahoma City Police Department said Tuesday.

Police spokesman Capt. Paco Balderrama told The Associated Press that investigators have ruled out homicide, but could not rule out the possibility that McClendon took his own life or had a medical emergency in the crash on March 2. The medical examiner’s report is still pending.

“We don’t know if he meant to do it,” Balderrama said. “We could not rule out suicide with 100 percent certainty, but we just were not able to find any evidence which directly pointed to it.”

Police previously said the former Chesapeake Energy CEO and part owner of the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder was driving 78 mph when his SUV hit a bridge support and burst into flames and that there was no evidence suggesting he tried to avoid the crash.

The vehicle’s data recorder showed McClendon was driving 88 mph and then tapped his brakes before impact, police had said previously.

McClendon had his gas pedal floored until 1 ½ seconds before impact, when he reduced it from 99 to 25 percent depressed, they said.

Investigators found tire tracks but no skid marks.

The state medical examiner’s office said previously that McClendon died from multiple blunt force trauma, but has yet to reveal the official manner of death or toxicology test results.

The medical examiner’s report is expected to be completed soon, perhaps as early as this week, said spokeswoman Amy Elliott with the state medical examiner’s office.

McClendon did not leave a note or message that would indicate he planned to kill himself, Balderrama said.

His death came a day after a federal grand jury indicted him, alleging McClendon conspired to rig the bidding process for natural gas leases in Oklahoma from 2007 to 2012, when he led Chesapeake Energy.

In the charging document, prosecutors alleged that McClendon, two unnamed companies and an unnamed co-conspirator would decide who would win the bid to certain drilling rights and then give the “loser” a share in the lease.

McClendon said shortly after being indicted that he was the first person in the oil and gas industry to be accused of improprieties involving the joint bidding on leases, in which companies work together to solicit work. He had vowed to fight the allegations.

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