Family Sues To Have Death Certificate Changed

Wednesday, January 25th 2012, 6:54 pm
By: News 9

A father and mother fight the medical examiner's office for two years to change their daughter's death certificate from suicide to murder.

A law is now named after their daughter, Chanda Turner. The Chanda Turner Reform Act allows families to go to court and appeal a loved one's death certificate.

11/1/2011 Related Story: New Law Allows OKC Family To Appeal Ruling On Daughter's Death

Joe and Donna Turner were in court this morning for the first meeting in what they hope will bring answers to 11 years of questions.

Donna Turner explains they have been fighting the system for too long, " I can't function and move forward and do what I need to do if I stop and think about what's been done to her."

Chanda Turner died in 2000. The medical examiner's office ruled her death a suicide. But an independent autopsy calls her death a homicide.

The Turners started a petition. The initiative led to The Chanda Turner Reform Act.

Chanda's father, Joe Turner says, "We are moving forward. We've gotten further in the last two years that we have in the last ten."

The Turners know the process will still take some time.

On the first day possible under the new law, the Turners filed for an evidentiary hearing hoping to bring witnesses immediately before a judge.

Instead, the Turners must go through the civil process meaning it could be nine months to a year before a trial begins.

The Turners are not complaining, "Today is a very good day," Joe Turner said. 

Turner explains that instead of the evidentiary hearing, a court order was issued requiring the medical examiner's office to open its files to their attorney, Jaye Mendros,

Mendros says she will call on former medical examiner Dr. Collie Trant to prove Chanda's case is a homicide, but, as previously reported, Dr. Trant did not amend the initial suicide ruling on Turner's case while employed at the ME's office.

2/7/2010 Related Story: Former Medical Examiner Dr. Trant to Sue After Being Fired

The Turner's attorney is happy with the progress made in the case." It's the first time the medical examiner's office is being made by someone above them to give these families the information behind their rulings."

The Turners say it leaves them confident their next day in court will bring about more changes.

"It will mean we will have answers that we have been trying to get."

The medical examiner's office is not commenting on this case because of ongoing lawsuits. Court records show the Turners are also personally suing the ME's office for monetary relief of more than $10,000.