Portage County Coroner’s Office ruled student died of pneumonia

James Barnes. Submitted photo.

James Barnes. Submitted photo.

Alicia Balog

Three months after the discovery of 26-year-old James Barnes’ body in his Leebrick Hall dorm room, the Portage County Coroner’s Office ruled Barnes died of acute pneumonia in the left lung.

Portage County Coroner Roger Marcial made the ruling Tuesday after reviewing Barnes’ autopsy. The autopsy, performed by the Summit County Medical Examiner, indicated he died of natural causes, the Record-Courier said.

According to Webster’s Online Dictionary, death by natural causes “is a loosely-defined term used by coroners describing death when the cause of death was a naturally occurring disease process, or is not apparent given medical history or circumstances.”

Michquel Penn, Kent State police officer, said when someone dies of natural causes, the person usually dies of something he or she could not control.

“That’s usually if someone says, ‘okay, if somebody died of a heart attack, maybe if somebody died of … breast cancer’ or something along natural causes versus something that was foul play,” Penn said. “Foul play would be, you know, somebody gave them some bad drugs .… If we suspected it was a homicide, someone came in and stabbed him or something like that.”

Kent State police officers discovered Barnes’ body in his dorm room in Leebrick Hall during a welfare check on October 16, 2011.

Read more about Barnes’ death here.

Barnes was enrolled in a three-year master’s program for business administration at Kent State. Before attending Kent State, he graduated in 2009 from Pennsylvania’s Slippery Rock University with a bachelor’s degree in finance.

In an October 17 article, Katie Brahaney, a friend of Barnes and a fellow graduate of Slippery Rock, said Barnes “was known for his smile, laugh and sincerity.” She said her friendship with Barnes was one any student could relate to.

“Our day-to-day lives as students seemed routine. But I look back now and see how privileged I have been in being able to meet such a caring, funny, honest man who made college so special for me,” Brahaney said. “James was my best friend and someone I loved. He will be missed, but never forgotten.”

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