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False medical examiner testimony leads to new murder trial

Another case in which false medical examiner testimony may have led to the wrongful conviction of a man for murdering his infant daughter demonstrates that the death investigation system in the U.S. is not without serious flaws. A judge recently granted a man a new trial after he said that false testimony by a medical examiner may have led to a wrongful conviction in 2004 for the murder of his four-month-old daughter.

The man's new trial will begin later this month. His case demonstrates how more oversight of death investigations in the U.S. as well as more uniformity in the investigations through mandatory state and federal guidelines for death investigations could be beneficial and possibly prevent wrongful convictions for murders and sex crimes.

This medical examiner is currently under investigation in his county for the false testimony. Several oversights happened in the case -- for example, the county failed to report the child's death so the death was not reviewed by a panel of doctors, medical examiners, child abuse experts and other specialists. The man may still be found guilty of murder at the end of the new trial, but it is his right to have a fair one; he has been in jail for six years for a murder he may not have committed.

This medical examiner was also investigated recently because he was accused last year of misinterpreting the results of a lab test used in hundreds of rape cases in the 1980s. The investigation into that accusation concluded that the medical examiner had come to the correct conclusions.

Source: MPR News, "Ramsey County medical examiner Michael McGee under investigation," Madeleine Baran, Sept. 6, 2011

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