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Video: Sheriff's Department says Taser not cause of man's death

A bad heart, meth use and poor choices killed Richard Abston — not a Taser.

That was the message Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin gave to reporters during a Friday press conference about the death of Abston, a man who on Feb. 7 barreled the wrong way down Highway 99, hit several cars and fought with law enforcement.

Based on a toxicology report, Pazin said the 53-year-old Abston’s body contained a methamphetamine level of .69 milligrams per liter in his system when he died. Pazin said the euphoric effects of meth for the casual user generally begin with an intoxication level of .01 milligrams per liter.

A forensic pathologist concluded that Abston’s death was caused by cardiac arrhythmia due to an enlarged heart, which was compounded by excited delirium with methamphetamine intoxication.Pazin said the findings will be forwarded to the Merced County District Attorney’s Office to make a final determination on Abston’s death.

Reporter Victor A. Patton can be reached at (209) 385-2431 or