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DA: No criminal charges against former state medical examiner

Posted November 15, 2013

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— Orange County District Attorney Jim Woodall said Friday that no criminal charges will be filed against a former state medical examiner accused of mishandling evidence.

Dr. Clay Nichols was fired last week as North Carolina's deputy chief medical examiner amid a State Bureau of Investigation review of his work.

Woodall asked the SBI to investigate after authorities received a tip in September that evidence was mishandled in the autopsy of a 2011 Cumberland County shooting victim.

The state Office of the Chief Medical Examiner is now housed at a state lab in Raleigh, but it used to be in Chapel Hill, which puts any criminal investigation in Woodall's hands.

Investigators looked at the autopsy of Terrell Boykin, one of two people killed in a Fayetteville home on May 8, 2011, and a Robeson County case to examine the way bullet fragments were retrieved and handled, Woodall said.

Nichols explained why he handled evidence the way he did and why he documented it the way he did in both cases, Woodall said, and investigators also interviewed others in the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

Woodall said he and Cumberland County District Attorney Billy West agreed there was no criminal wrongdoing in the case.

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  • disgusted2010 Nov 15, 2013

    Nice... now that the man's career has been destroyed, they decide he didn't do anything wrong. Maybe prosecutors should get all the facts before they start making accusations.
    sharonmontour

    The prosecutor simply asked for an investigation. You can blame the reckless news media for destroying his reputation. Anything to entertain.

  • kikinc Nov 15, 2013

    Mishandled evidence is negligence. Negligence is not necessarily criminal. Obviously he showed incompetence, rendering him unsuitable for the job.

  • In Decisive Nov 15, 2013

    There can be issues with performance that impact the employee's position and as a result that person can be terminated. At the same time those issues may be determined to not meet the burden of the criminal charge, which is what this article addresses. They can be mutually exclusive with different outcomes. In other words, you can have not committed a crime but your management can determine that your performance is lacking and you can still lose your job.

  • FragmentFour Nov 15, 2013

    Criminal wrongdoing, and poor judgement are not the same thing, although I would suspect the later plays a part in the former. However, poor judgement in a murder case IS and SHOULD BE grounds for dismissal, I believe.

  • disgusted2010 Nov 15, 2013

    If no charges why fire him, he did not wrong according to the investigation..
    Click to view my profile Sherlock

    Politicians pandering to the anti-government media

  • stymieindurham Nov 15, 2013

    Sounds like someone is gonna get their job back. Wonder why the state was so quick to "fire".

  • sharonmontour Nov 15, 2013

    Nice... now that the man's career has been destroyed, they decide he didn't do anything wrong. Maybe prosecutors should get all the facts before they start making accusations.

  • Sherlock Nov 15, 2013

    If no charges why fire him, he did not wrong according to the investigation..