Coroner and DA discuss need for full time pathologist - - The News for South Mississippi

Coroner and DA discuss need for full time pathologist

Dr. Paul McGarry. (Photo source: WLOX News) Dr. Paul McGarry. (Photo source: WLOX News)
SOUTH MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - Is there a need in South Mississippi for a full time forensic pathologist to handle death investigations? That issue is being discussed following the death of Dr. Paul McGarry, who did that job for some 35 years.

It does put us in a bind, said Harrison County coroner, Gary Hargrove, And it's not only just Harrison County, but it's Jackson, Hancock and Stone County. Because he did pretty much 100 percent of our cases.

Dr. Paul McGarry was "the authority in death investigations in South Mississippi for 35 years; leading detectives in the field, performing autopsies and providing expert testimony in court.

Coroner Hargrove says now is the time for the state to assign a full pathologist here.

Will that be an easy task?  As you well know, money is tight. But we're going to do what we can to do it because there is a need down here to have a full time pathologist . We've shown that over the years, he said.

The role of the pathologist in a criminal justice case is very important, says district attorney, Joel Smith.

He believes there's more than enough case load in South Mississippi to justify a full time pathologist.

Our homicide investigators have a need to see these autopsies completed in a timely fashion, so that they can take the evidence gained from those autopsies and further their investigation, said Smith.

One thing already in place in South Mississippi is a facility where those autopsies can take place.

We already have the perfect setting in place. Out on Highway 67 there's a beautiful, state of the art facility, where our autopsies can be conducted now. And they can be conducted locally,' said the district attorney.

Let's do what we've got to do. And get the personnel put down here to serve the southern third of the state. And the time is now, said Hargrove.

Coroner Hargrove said the state medical examiner's office has faced budget cuts in recent years. Still, he and district attorney Smith, will be lobbying lawmakers to find the funding needed for a full time pathologist position.

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