Local/State

Deputy North Carolina medical examiner will not be charged

Friday, November 15, 2013
Investigation

Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Friday that former deputy North Carolina medical examiner Dr. Clay Nichols will not face criminal charges related to two cases in Cumberland County.

Woodall made the decision after reviewing a State Bureau of Investigation probe of Nichols' alleged mishandling of bullet fragments in two Cumberland County cases.

Woodall said investigators found no criminal activity or wrongdoing.

Nichols was fired by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner after the allegations came to light.

In a statement Friday, Dr. Robin Cummings, Deputy Secretary for Health Services and Acting State Health Director, said he was pleased by Woodall's decision.

"DHHS cooperated fully with the investigation, and is reviewing the matter to determine if any additional action is necessary. We are also pleased that the investigation has brought the long history of vacancies and personnel shortages in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner to the public's attention," he said.

Woodall said the workload of state medical examiners is one of many issues he intends to discuss with officials at the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services in meeting scheduled for next week. Woodall says DHHS has already indicated they're making changes in order to be more proactive about how cases are handled. 

Cummings said the medical examiner's office has hired two pathologists who start work in January.

Officials said the investigation has put all district attorney's offices in the state on alert. The SBI has been given the green light to investigate other allegations of medical examiner misconduct should they arise.

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north carolina news, orange county news, cumberland county news, local/state
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