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DECISIVE ARSENIC TEST RESULTS EXPECTED

Kentucky's medical examiner said tests on tissue samples taken from President Zachary Taylor's crypt should settle once and for all the question of whether he was the victim of arsenic poisoning.

The white marble crypt was opened Monday and a coroner took samples of the 12th president's remains.The exhumation was conducted at the request of Holder, Fla., author Clara Rising, who is researching a book about Taylor and theorized he was poisoned by political foes in 1850 for opposing the spread of slavery into the Southwest.

Rising says symptoms of Taylor's sudden illness and death resembled those of arsenic poisoning.

The tissue samples will be tested at two laboratories, and arsenic poisoning would be clear, even after all this time, experts said.

"The toxicology analysis from what we obtained should be definitive," said Dr. George Nichols, state medical examiner. "There will be a `no' or `yes' rather than a continuing question mark."

Findings should be out in about two weeks, he said.

Taylor's death was ascribed at the time to gastroenteritis.

"Rumors have been running through the family for years and years," said Dabney Taylor, the president's great-great-great-grandson, who was present when the remains were taken.

Dabney Taylor said he had no opinion on the assassination theory. But he said family lore has it that if anyone did Taylor in, Sen. Henry Clay of Kentucky, "the Great Compromiser," is a prime suspect.