Death of Charles Pettit ruled suicide by Bexar Medical Examiner

SAN ANTONIO — With growing allegations that his older brother had stole millions of dollars from his clients and the law firm where he had been employed closed, Charles Joseph Pettit apparently had had enough.

At some point in the weeks after disgraced ex-lawyer Christopher “Chris” Pettit filed for bankruptcy to avoid litigation and closed his company’s offices, his younger brother wrapped his head and top of his torso in plastic sheeting and lay down to die. The death has now been ruled a suicide by the Bexar County Medical Examiner’s Office.

Charles Joseph Pettit, 49, died of asphyxiation, he said in a new report. Her body was found July 12 at her home in San Antonio, wrapped in plastic. The medical examiner’s office detected zolpidem, a sleeping pill, in his system, but said in an autopsy report it was uncertain whether the drug contributed to his death.

Her body was discovered after Chris Pettit, 55, asked San Antonio police for a wellness check. The brothers had not been in contact since a June 16 text message. Chris Pettit was living in Florida at the time. On June 1, he had filed for bankruptcy protection for himself and his law firm. He returned his law degree the following week.

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Upon entering Charles Pettit’s home the following month, officers said they were overwhelmed by a strong smell and, according to a police report, found “obvious signs of decomposition” on his body.

The autopsy report did not indicate how long Charles Pettit had been dead before his body was found.

The former San Antonio law office of Christopher “Chris” Pettit at 11902 Rustic Lane is among the properties returned to bankruptcy as part of a settlement agreement.

The police report says Chris Pettit said he believed his brother “had had enough and may have committed suicide” due to the media attention Chris Pettit was receiving for allegedly stealing millions of dollars from his clients.

He has been in jail since September 8 after a bankruptcy court judge ruled he had not told the truth in or forthcoming court proceedings. about what happened to a work laptop that may contain answers sought by creditors. The judge issued an order detailing 17 items Chris Pettit must meet to “purge” himself from the contempt charge and be released.

Creditors for Pettit and his law firm submitted about 200 claims totaling about $259 million before the Oct. 5 deadline.. That’s more than double the $112 million Pettit reported he owed. It’s easily one of the biggest individual bankruptcy cases ever filed in San Antonio.

His law practice focused on estate planning and personal injury cases, but also provided financial advice and investment management services.

“Eliminate foul play”

Charles Pettit, who was not a lawyer, worked at his brother’s law firm but was not involved in any alleged wrongdoing.

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His death came during a bankruptcy court hearing in July when a judge allowed Chris Pettit to spend $5,000 on funeral expenses. On the witness stand, he testified that he spent nothing because the body was not returned to the funeral home.

“They always try to rule out foul play,” he said.

It later emerged that Chris Pettit had stayed in a hotel rather than the house he owns in a gated community in Stone Oak. His bankruptcy attorney at the time said Chris Pettit had “concerns for his personal safety” because the trustee changed the locks on the house and kept a key for him.

“I think he has security issues,” the attorney said. “Of course, with the death of his brother…”

Charles Pettit lived in the 15700 block of Deer Crest. It was among a group of nine properties that Chris Pettit had transferred to an entity called Sin Reposo LLC before filing for bankruptcy.

The settlements were a way for Chris Pettit to raise money to pay off a former client who won an $11.8 million judgment against him and his law firm.

Eric Terry, the Chapter 11 trustee, determined that Chris Pettit and related entities entered into the transactions with “the actual intent to obstruct, delay or defraud creditors.”

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As part of a legal settlement reached last month, seven of the properties – including the Deer Crest house – would be returned to bankruptcy.

Hearing this week

This month, Terry filed a motion seeking court approval to sell the property to Schoenau LLC for $325,000. A valuation report that Pettit provided to Sin Reposo valued the property at $386,000.

“The purchase price of $325,000 represents the highest and best offer received after the Deer Crest property was actively marketed by the trustee’s realtor, particularly given the relatively poor condition of the property. “, says the document.

Terry also wants court approval to sell three other properties that Sin Reposo has agreed to sell. They are:

• A single family home at 4118 Honeycomb St. San Antonio. Schoenau agreed to buy it for $240,000.

• A small apartment building at 488 Olmos Drive in Olmos Park. A Californian couple agreed to buy it for $805,000.

• A lakeside home on Lakebreeze Drive in Canyon Lake. A San Antonio entity called Rose and Johnson Properties Series LLC is under contract to buy it for $815,000.

A hearing on the four motions is scheduled for Wednesday.

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