From Staff and Wire Reports
With no medical examiner or pathologist at the top of the state’s food chain, Attala County Coroner Sam Bell asked the Attala County Board of Supervisors to consider hiring Dr. Steve Hayne as the county’s pathologist.
Bell said Hayne had been hired by 38 other counties and he wanted Attala County to be the 39th. He said it would be at no additional cost to the county.
For years, many counties had relied on Dr. Steve Hayne to do autopsies. But in August, Public Safety Commissioner Steve Simpson removed Hayne from a list of approved pathologists.
The state has contracted with Forensic Medical Inc. of Nashville to conduct autopsies here. The company is paid $1,000 per autopsy.
Bell said with the Nashville company, there is a three to four month turnaround to getting the autopsies.
The company rotates a pathologist every week to perform autopsies in Mississippi. The pathologist works out of the medical examiner's office at the state Crime Lab.
Bell added that the company’s reports are also not has extensive as the reports were from Hayne. He said District Attorney Doug Evans’ office was in favor of using Hayne.
The supervisors asked to get examples of contracts that Hayne has with other counties and get board attorney Scott Pickle to look into the matter further before making a decision.
Hayne was removed from the designated list of pathologists after the New York-based Innocence Project had accused him of sloppy work and had filed a complaint with the state Board of Medical Licensure, calling on the board to strip him of his medical license.
After examining the allegations, the Board of Medical Licensure sided with Hayne. Hayne is now suing Innocence Project officials for defamation.
Hayne also is being sued, along with Hattiesburg dentist Michael West, for their testimony about the 1992 rape and slaying of a 3-year-old girl that led to the death sentence for Kennedy Brewer.
Brewer is suing the pair for $18 million. He was freed after spending 15 years in prison for a crime authorities now say DNA shows he did not commit. Another man has been charged with that crime.
The state will advertise for proposals from companies to perform autopsies.
Simpson said he is certain the Nashville company will be one of the bidders to provide the services during the next fiscal year that begins July 1.
The medical examiner position has been vacant since 1995.