Criticism of CA Pathologist’s Autopsy Not Disclosed Before 7 Go to Prison


After a Vallejo, Ca., man's body was discovered four years ago in a ditch, seven people were sent to prison for their roles in his death — based in part on an autopsy by Dr. Thomas Gill, then the county's forensic pathologist. During the case, the accused men and their lawyers were unaware of one crucial fact, reports California Watch: Another pathologist had reviewed Gill’s work for the county sheriff and declared his conclusion “unreasonable.”

Prosecutors failed to disclose this contradictory autopsy review to the defendants. To dismiss the plea agreement and get a new trial, defense attorneys would have to prove that the review could have made a fundamental difference in their case, said Gabriel Chin, a law professor at University of California Davis. In this case, “it sounds like it may well have,” he said. Gill, 68, has repeatedly resurrected his career in Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Northern California, and Kansas City, after autopsy errors undermined criminal cases and led to misdiagnosed causes of death. The California State Bar called the doctor “incompetent” in a 2006 report on a botched homicide investigation.

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