Gregg County approves $5,000 budget transfer to fund autopsies
“The evidence that comes out of an autopsy is paramount in a criminal investigation.”
GREGG COUNTY, Texas (KLTV) - The Gregg County Commissioners Court approved a budget transfer of $5,000 to a justice of the peace office to fund necessary ordered autopsies.
“Every precinct in a county has a justice of the peace and they do a lot of hard work. They do a lot of crime scenes as well as death scenes. More and more autopsies are being requested by the judges or by law enforcement. If you run short, obviously you have to come back to court and get additional monies to cover their shortfall,” said Gregg County Judge Bill Stoudt.
The funds are needed to cover the costs of an essential service to the county and law enforcement in the area of discovery, specifically finding out what caused a death and whether there were contributing factors or even foul play.
“There’s a lot of things that can be obtained through autopsy, evidence is first and foremost what we’re after, the other is the manner of death. There’s been times that we’re completely surprised by what we see in an autopsy. We expect something, and are completely turned in another direction,” says Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Craig Harrington.
And it may take more than one try. Case in point, in a missing person case, the remains of Rosemary Rodriguez, the initial autopsy gave no clues as to manner of death.
“The evidence that comes out of an autopsy is paramount in any investigation,” the chief deputy says.
Not every city has a forensic laboratory, so funding autopsies is vital.
“It’s not just the sheriff’s office, or law enforcement, it’s Texas DPS. Anytime there’s an accident we want to know what caused that accident. Was it medical, was it alcohol, was it drug induced? If you don’t have an autopsy, you’ll never know one way or the other,” Harrington says.
Judge Bill Stoudt says the budget transfer should cover the autopsy cost through the end of the budget year in September.
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