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Friday
Jan112013

Poisoned Lottery Winner's Exhumation Approved

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- A judge has approved the exhumation of the Chicago lottery winner who died of cyanide poisoning.

Judge Susan Coleman of the Probate Division of the Cook County Circuit Court in Illinois Friday approved the county medical examiner's request to exhume the body of Urooj Khan at Rosehill Cemetery in Chicago.

Khan, 46, died July 20, 2012, from what was initially believed to be natural causes. But a family member whose identity has yet to be revealed asked the medical examiner's office to re-examine the cause of death, which was subsequently determined to be cyanide poisoning.

The office did so by retesting fluid samples that had been taken from Khan's body, including tests for cyanide and strychnine.

In explaining the request for exhumation, Chief Medical Examiner Stephen Cina has said, "If or when this goes to court, it would be nice to have all the data possible."

The Chicago businessman had won a $1 million lottery jackpot -- before taxes -- the month before he died.

In the latest legal twist, Khan's brother filed a petition Wednesday to a judge asking Citibank to release information about Khan's assets to "ultimately ensure" that [Khan's] minor daughter "receives her proper share." Khan reportedly did not have a will.

He left behind a widow, Shabana Ansari, 32, and a teenage daughter from his first marriage. Ansari and Khan reportedly married 12 years ago in India.

Authorities questioned Ansari in November and searched the home she shared with Khan. She and her attorney, Al Haroon Husain, say she had nothing to do with his death.

"It's sad that I lost my husband," she told ABC News. "I love him and I miss him. That's all I can say."

The siblings of the poisoned lottery winner have pursued legal action to protect their niece's share of her late father's estate. They also questioned whether he and Ansari were legally married, but Ansari's attorney said she has a marriage certificate from India that is valid in the United States.

ImTiaz Khan, 56, Khan's brother, and Meraj Khan, 37, their sister, had won a court order to freeze the lottery winnings after Ansari cashed the check.

Husain said Ansari cashed the lottery check after it was mailed to the home, which she did not request.

The lottery check, about $425,000 in cash, was issued July 19 by the Illinois Comptroller's Office, then mailed, according to Brad Hahn, spokesman for the Comptroller's Office. Hahn said it was cashed Aug. 15, nearly a month after Khan's death, but he did not know who cashed it.

The judge later approved Ansari's competing claim as an administrator of the estate.

"I don't care what they talk [sic]," Ansari told ABC News of what her in-laws are saying.

Ansari said she was married to Khan but declined to comment to ABC News about cashing the check after his death.

Meraj Khan filed in September to become the legal guardian of her niece. After the judge asked the 17-year old daughter with whom she wished to live, she chose her aunt and has been there since November, Husain said.

Neither sibling has petitioned to obtain a share of the dead man's estate, which is estimated to be $1.2 million in lottery winnings, real estate, Khan's laundry business and automobiles.

Neither the attorney for ImTiaz Khan nor the two siblings has responded to requests for comment.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio