It’s been a long time coming, but victory was celebrated on May 25 when the Governor of the State of Oklahoma signed The Chanda Turner Bill which brings about much needed reform of the state Medical Examiner’s Office.
Crime Wire first presented the issue on a 2010 radio show featuring the families involved in the reform and their inclusion in the Justice for the Dead website. Several families contacted Attorney Jaye Mendros to represent their interests and assist them in formulating changes needed in the Medical Examiner’s Office. Several families have come forward, each with their own nightmare which began with incompetent investigations into a loved one’s death.
Refer to the Justice for the Dead website for details on each family and how inconsistencies within the system have caused them each indescribable and ongoing suffering. http://justiceforthedead.com\
Donna and Joe Turner, the parents of Chanda Turner, spearheaded this action when their daughter was found shot to death and quickly ruled a suicide. Through their efforts, and the passage of The Chanda Turner Bill, they have made it possible for families to appeal incorrect death certificates and seek justice for their loved ones.
The Crime Wire Team celebrates with each of the families.
FOI Oklahoma: a statewide organization actively supporting those organizations and individuals working to open records or provide access to meetings illegally closed. FOI Oklahoma doesn't just believe in the right of access: it acts to help guarantee that right.
A pathologist who pleaded guilty in 1996 to criminal ethics violations is the leading candidate to become Oklahoma's next chief medical examiner.
He is believed to be the only current candidate for the position, which pays more than $200,000 a year.
He resigned in February 1996 after about 13 years in the position.
Cox was accused in the criminal case of personally profiting from autopsies done in Summit County facilities for outside counties.
Cox also was accused of hiding that income from the Ohio Ethics Commission on financial disclosure forms required of public officials.
He eventually pleaded guilty to nine misdemeanors. He agreed to pay $138,000 in restitution to the county, records show. He also was put on probation and ordered to spend 30 days at a halfway house and complete 200 hours of community service, records show.
The Ohio State Medical Board reprimanded him in 1997.
He has continued to perform autopsies at other places. In 2005, he told the Columbus Dispatch, an Ohio newspaper, “I don't believe that what occurred … would have any bearing at all on what my findings are as far as doing an autopsy or what I'd say on the stand.”
Cox was traveling to Oklahoma and could not be reached for comment Wednesday. He said in November 1996, after pleading guilty, that he does not believe he intentionally violated the law because he had followed legal advice.
The board in September hired Philip Keen, an Arizona doctor, but later withdrew the job offer when a background check turned up issues in his past. The board then offered the job to Andrew Sibley, a pathologist who has worked in the medical examiner's Tulsa office for more than 10 years. Sibley last month turned the job down.
Board members are aware of Cox's ethical violations in Ohio. At least one Oklahoma City resident, whose great grandmother was a homicide victim, contacted the board about Cox's past.
“I have interpreted the Oklahoma Constitution to state that state employees must be free of any ethical misconduct so the public can have confidence in the integrity of the … employees,” Lauren Layman, 37, wrote one board member in an e-mail.
Board member Charles Curtis, who is deputy director of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, responded Dec. 6, “Let me assure you that if this moves forward, there will be a thorough investigation of this matter and all parties involved and, if the board is not comfortable with the results, no offer of employment will be extended.”
Cox also has been jailed twice in Ohio — in 2000 and 2002 — accused of dodging subpoenas to testify in criminal cases, according to accounts in the Akron Beacon Journal, an Ohio daily newspaper.
“You, sir, are an embarrassment to yourself and your profession that you stand here in an orange jumpsuit before the court,” a judge is quoted as telling him in 2000 after he spent eight days in jail.
He was accused in 2000 of avoiding subpoenas to testify as a defense expert in a murder trial because he was only being offered $90 to testify instead of his standard $2,500 fee.
In 2002, he was jailed, accused of refusing to come back to court to testify as a defense witness in a drunken-driving case, the Akron newspaper reported. The judge in that case is quoted as saying Cox was “an impediment to the administration of justice.”
While the coroner for Summit County, Cox helped in the investigation of Jeffrey Dahmer, an infamous serial killer who killed mostly in Milwaukee. Dahmer killed his first victim in Ohio in 1978. Cox became involved when Dahmer disclosed the location of that victim's dismembered body after he was caught in 1991.
A coroner's inquest into the July 21, 2007 death of Bud Foglesong was held in Glenn County, California at the end of August. The jury ruled that Bud died "at the hands of another." Their finding that his death was a homicide reverses the initial determination that he died as the result of an accident or suicide. Our congratulations to the Foglesong family and reporter Tim Crews of The Sacreamento Valley Mirror for their determination in pursuing justice for Bud. This is a giant step toward reaching that goal.