M.E.'s Office Pathologist's Qualifications Called into Question

Wednesday, April 28th 2010, 6:31 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The qualifications of state pathologist Dr. Chai Choi are being called into question, but the State Medical Examiner's Office said they back Choi's work.

The M.E.'s office initially ruled Chanda Turner's death as a suicide after she was found dead in 2000. Now after a recent second review of the case, Choi again certified the death of Chanda Turner as being a suicide. The attorney for the Turner family said two Medical Examiner's from other states said the death was a homicide, and attorney Jaye Mendros said she believes Dr. Choi is only certified in forensic pathology, not anatomical.

"Two pathologists, two medical examiners, say this is a homicide, and we've got Dr. Choi, who is working in this unaccredited Medical Examiner's office, who appears to not even be board certified in anatomic pathology, disagreeing with them and stymieing all law enforcement efforts," Mendros said.

Meanwhile in Norman 25-year-old Heather Trask is on trial for the murder of her infant daughter, Mackensie. Dr. Choi ruled the child's death was a homicide, caused by a blunt force injury to the head.

Trask's attorneys pointed to a profile from the Oklahoma Medical Board that listed Dr. Choi as being certified only in forensic pathology, not anatomical or clinical. The M.E.'s office says that profile is inaccurate. In fact the M.E.'s office provided certificates showing that Dr. Choi is certified in forensic, anatomical, and clinical pathology.

"This woman has done more than 8,000 autopsies in her 27 year career, and we don't want her credibility to be called into question at all," said M.E.'s office spokesperson Cherokee Ballard.

Trask's attorneys plan to question Choi about her qualifications when she testifies later in the week.

The child's father, Jonathan Trask, has already been convicted for his part in the baby's murder. He's currently serving a life sentence.

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