Tarrant County’s defense attorneys on Tuesday asked the commissioners for an external investigation into the medical examiner’s office after a number of issues with autopsies recently emerged that could potentially jeopardize the ongoing homicide cases.
“We want an independent body to investigate them and the Texas Rangers to stand out as the independent government agency to deal with them,” said Benson Varghese, president of the Tarrant County Defense Lawyers Association.
The problems have increased in the last few weeks.
Long-time coroner Dr. Nizam Peerwani noted that his senior deputy, Dr. Marc Kraus, made 59 errors in death examinations last year. Kraus was banned from performing autopsies on murder cases in November and only left the office last week.
Then a judge found that Peerwani himself made false and misleading statements in a 2006 murder case in which the accused landed on death row.
“From our point of view, and I speak together as a defense beam, this is really unprecedented,” said Varghese.
Defense lawyers say the revelations may raise questions about the prosecution of murder cases – past and present.
“Everyone is also shocked that this could have happened, and now it is being brought up in any case where the Tarrant County Medical Examiner touched the file,” Varghese said.
Tarrant County Judge Glen Whitley avoided questions about what he was going to do about it.
“There is litigation pending so I must decline to comment at this point,” said Whitley.
The Dallas District Attorney has been appointed a special attorney to handle cases involving Dr. Krause is involved. Defense attorneys would also like to see the investigation into Dr. Peerwani and the entire office is being expanded.
Peerwani did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.