Brad Renfro's Former Lawyer: 'We All Failed'

Brad Renfro's Former Lawyer: 'We All Failed'
Brad Renfro
Stephen Shugerman/Getty

updated 01/16/2008 at 11:00 AM EST

originally published 01/16/2008 11:20AM

An autopsy is planned for Thursday to determine what caused troubled actor Brad Renfro's untimely death, Los Angeles County coroner officials tell PEOPLE.

Meanwhile, his former lawyer spoke out, saying the news left her in tears.

Former Renfro defense attorney Blair Berk, who routinely represents celebs battling substance abuse (including Lindsay Lohan and Mel Gibson), tells PEOPLE that there's something particularly tragic and disturbing about the talented actor's death at such a young age.

"As critical and prescient as you become in this town, all I did was cry when I heard the news," Berk says. "I feel in some respects like we all failed."

Renfro, 25, was drinking Monday night, according to roommates who discovered his dead body Tuesday morning and made the 911 call. Coroner's office Lt. Cheryl MacWillie says the autopsy will be done on Thursday, but toxicology results normally take several weeks.

The fact that he was drinking could an indication that Renfro, who has battled heroin addiction for several years, took illicit drugs before his death, addiction expert and Celebrity Rehab host Dr. Drew Pinsky tells PEOPLE.

"Just the fact that he was a known addict who was drinking, that's all you need to know," Pinsky says. "Renfro was taught in rehab to stay away from booze, and if he was drinking the night before, odds are the coroner will find other substances in his body."

The actor, who starred in The Client and Apt Pupil, had recently completed a movie with Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton.

But Renfro had a troubled life off-screen, going back to 1997 when he was sentenced to two years of probation after he tried to steal a yacht.

In 2005, Renfro was busted again, this time in a police sting, on a felony charge of attempting to possess heroin. In a separate incident, he was charged with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence and two counts of driving with a suspended license.

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