Civil rights and criminal defense attorney David Schoen, who had met with sex offender multi-millionaire Jeffrey Epstein, said the disgraced financier appeared optimistic just days before his reported suicide.
“I saw him a few days earlier,” Schoen told Fox News on Thursday. “The reason I say I don’t believe it was suicide is for my interaction with him that day. The purpose of asking me to come there that day and over the past previous couple of weeks was to ask me to take over his defense.”
Epstein was found dead in his Manhattan jail cell in mid-August, just weeks after he was arrested on sex trafficking charges. Although the New York City Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed his cause of death was a suicide, there has been intense speculation—replete with viral memes—that the 66-year-old didn’t kill himself and was the victim of a homicide, and some have pointed to his connections with powerful celebrities, politicians, and business luminaries.
“We came to an agreement during the course of that discussion,” said Schoen. “We met for five hours on Aug. 1. I said that I would want to meet with his team first to see how they felt about that. And then we would go forward. We mapped out a strategy going forward.”
Epstein, he added, was excited and upbeat about his case. The next day, Schoen said he received a phone call from another one of his lawyers about moving forward on his defense.
A former prisoner who said he spent hours talking to Epstein in Metropolitan Correction Center in New York City 2019 when he was incarcerated claimed that the convicted sex offender didn’t appear to be suicidal.
“He was not depressed, although I would have conversations with him and every so often he’d sort of drift off and I’d go, ‘Ah, he’s thinking about the [expletive] he’s in the middle of,'” Bill Mersey told Fox News earlier this week.
But Mersey told the outlet that Epstein had enough space in his cell to kill himself. “The bunk beds get pretty high, so you could rig something up and you could kill yourself,” he said.
The speculation about Epstein’s death intensified after Epstein’s brother, Mark, hired renowned forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden, who had worked as New York City’s coroner, to be present during his autopsy and carry out his own investigation.
Last year, Baden told news outlets that the injuries Epstein had sustained were more consistent with homicide than suicide by hanging. Mark Epstein also expressed skepticism to news outlets about his brother’s death.
Two months ago, Epstein’s estate was sued by the U.S. Virgin Islands, with officials claiming he abused girls as young as 11 years old on his secluded island in that territory.
Epstein’s criminal enterprise “facilitated … the sexual molestation and exploitation of numerous girls” between 2001 until 2018 on his two private islands, said Attorney General Denise George in Superior Court of the Virgin Islands in the lawsuit, according to CNBC.