Panel to Review Procedures at Medical Examiner’s Office 2/18/14
CBS 7 News
February 18, 2014
ECTOR COUNTY-Controversy continues after the death of a premature baby found to have traces of cocaine in its system.
Talisha Redic was charged with seven counts of child endangerment after her six children tested positive for cocaine. Now the Ector County Medical Examiner's office is questioned after not performing an autopsy on her baby, who died less than a month after birth.
A grand jury says that decision was "reckless."
District Attorney Bobby Bland agrees and today Ector County commissioners took action.
In a special meeting of the Ector County Commissioner’s Court, the medical examiner and Bobby Bland Himself said today that an autopsy may not have found anything outside the doctor’s report because of how long that baby was being pumped hospital fluid. Meantime, commissioners voted to create a panel to look at the examiner’s policy.
A justice of the peace, the police chief and even the sheriff spoke out in support of the medical examiner's office.
"This system and the people that are there now is the best we’ve worked with so far,” said Ector County Sheriff Mark Donaldson.
The special meeting was called to discuss the Medical Examiner’s office and personnel after criticism by District Attorney Bobby Bland and a statement from a grand jury for not performing an autopsy on Talisha Redic's cocaine baby.
“Dr. Acreman is right, I don’t know what an autopsy would have shown. There’s no guarantee, but I know one thing for sure, we don’t know what it would have shown because they made the decision not to,” said District Attorney Bobby Bland.
Bland is the only person who spoke out against the office today.
"When I presented that case to the grand jury, we looked at all aspects, the problem is we couldn’t go higher than a state jail felony. We knew there were some injuries, but we couldn’t connect it to the cocaine,” Bland said.
For the first time, the investigator who made the decision spoke out.
"I spoke to three different investigators at the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office before making this decision,” said Ector County Medical Examiner Investigator Sandra Woolf. “The whole consensus was that it wouldn’t do any good to send the baby for an autopsy because he’d been hospitalized, given fluids and blood transfusions and anything that was present in birth in his system wouldn’t have shown up in his autopsy.”
The Medical Examiner’s office stood by the decision, saying an autopsy likely would not have found anything.
"Knowing what I know now about this, with the case and the firestorm and the conflict, the obvious answer is yes, the District Attorney is correct, more information is always better than less information. But I still suspect that the actual help that an autopsy would’ve provided in making his case would’ve been extraordinarily limited,” said Ector County Medical Examiner Dr. Anne Acreman.
The commissioners voted to form a stakeholder panel with city and county leaders to take a closer look at the standard operating procedures of the office.
Now commissioners did not say exactly who would be on this panel, but the committee was suggested by the police chief so that gives you an idea of some of the people who may be involved.
As it stands, Talisha Redic is charged with seven counts of child endangerment, and will face up to two years in prison for her role in the death of that baby.