BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - For five years now, the State Examiner's Office has had a crime lab in Biloxi stocked with state of the art equipment, like a digital x-ray machine.
"It's been sitting here unused. We want to get it up and running so we have stocked it and have performed two autopsies down here so far," Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Mark LeVaughn said.
Dr. LeVaughn said funding is the issue. He's requested more positions in next year's budget. But until then, he has found a way to start using the facility.
"We have doctors from Jackson starting to come down here on a rotating basis," Dr. LeVaughn said.
Every year the State Medical Examiner's Office performs 1,400-1,500 autopsies. Right now, none of local coroners use the state crime lab for autopsies because it is not convenient.
"Law enforcement want to witness the autopsy, take whatever pictures they need and they don't want to drive seven hours round trip to Jackson," Hancock County Coroner Jim Faulk said. "They want it done yesterday and they want to be there."
The major advantage to using the State Crime Lab is that next door to where the autopsies are performed is a lab where several tests can be done right away.
"We can have toxicology in house, on site. We can have trace evidence. We can do pretty cool CSI type stuff right on site," Dr. LeVaughn said.
The State Medical Examiner's Office charges $1,000 per autopsy, the same price local corners pay now for a private autopsy. If the office is manned, local coroners would have a choice of who they want to use.