Medical Examiner investigation delays murder cases

Local News

LUBBOCK, Texas — As more details emerge and a judge dismisses a lawsuit, the county is getting some answers concerning the Lubbock County Medical Examiner’s Office, but not all of them.

On Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Barron Slack admitted the pending medical examiner investigation “has caused some delays with homicide cases in our office.”

However, Slack said murder cases typically take a couple of years to resolve, and does not believe the delays will have a “meaningful effect on final dispositions.”

Rod Hobson, a criminal defense lawyer in town did not agree, stating it is too early to tell how the ongoing investigation could impact future homicide cases for both sides, but said delays cause problems.

“Delays always favors the defendant,” Hobson said. “If you are a victim or part of the victim’s family in the case, then it just gets delayed, delayed, delayed and justice delayed sometimes is justice denied.”

Hobson said many homicide cases have enough evidence so the medical examiner testimony is not necessary, but that’s not always the case.

“When the Medical Examiner makes a difference, it makes a real difference,” said Hobson.

Back in June, a lawsuit against NAAG Pathology Labs PC and two employees was dismissed, clearing both Lubbock County examiners, Dr. Evan Matches and Dr. Sam Andrews of claims they took body parts and shipped them to a NAAG lab in California for research.

Hobson said he also believes the current Medical Examiner issues cost tax payers their money.

“The reason we pay them a lot of money is we want them to resolve the problem and contradiction in the case,” Hobson said. “We don’t want any questions as to the cause of death. This particular Medical Examiner’s office has caused problems.”

Hobson has a murder case coming up in September and is interested to see how it’s impacted.

Slack said that during the investigation, multiple murder cases have also been resolved through guilty pleas or the trial process.

“I’m not going to try a case while there’s investigations hanging around out there that might impact the credibility of their witnesses,” Hobson said. “That would be malpractice.”

Assistant District Attorney, Barron Slack’s complete statement:

“The pending Medical Examiner investigation has caused some delays with homicide cases in our office.  Because cases of this nature normally require a couple of years to resolve, we do not expect the delays to have a meaningful effect on final dispositions. Multiple murder cases have also been resolved through guilty pleas or the trial process during this investigation.”

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