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Akerman partner’s death is ruled a suicide

Posted Dec 12, 2013 8:03 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The death of Akerman Senterfitt partner Richard Sharpstein has been ruled a suicide.

Sharpstein’s housekeeper found him dead in the bathtub, submerged in about a foot of water, at his Miami Beach condo on Tuesday. The medical examiner and investigators determined the 63-year-old criminal defense lawyer died as a result of drowning, the Daily Business Review reports.

Sgt. Robert Hernandez announced the findings late Wednesday, the story says. “There were no physical signs there was a struggle,” Hernandez said. “He was under the influence of some type of sedative and slipped into an unconscious state.”

A source close to the investigation told the Daily Business Review that police found a note addressed to loved ones. A story by the Miami Herald also mentions the note, written on a yellow legal pad.

Sharpstein was known for his quick wit and courtroom presence. Retired Judge Jonathan Colby had told the Miami Herald that he was "a joy to watch in the courtroom. ... Richard Sharpstein was one of the good guys in this world. He really cared about protecting the innocent."

Sharpstein’s firm will honor him with a donation to the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers’ Foundation for Criminal Justice. Andrew Smulian, chairman and CEO of Akerman, said Sharpstein’s death has “triggered an outpouring of emotion and sorrow for the loss of a truly exceptional man with a charismatic and engaging personality, a warm and generous spirit and a tremendous sense of humor.”

Sharpstein’s divorce from his wife of 35 years, Janice, was finalized last month. She sobbed in an interview with the Daily Business Review. "I loved him more than half of my life, and I always will,” she said.

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Prior coverage:

ABAJournal.com: "Prominent Akerman partner is found dead; death investigation is under way"

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