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SLO County Sheriff's Office hires new medical examiner 

After months of criticism over the performance of its contracted medical examiner, the SLO County Sheriff's Office has hired its first full-time forensic pathologist.

click to enlarge NEW HIRE Dr. Joye M. Carter was hired by the SLO County Sheriff's Office to serve as the county's new medical examiner. Carter replaces a contracted doctor Gary Walter, who was arrested for a DUI last year and is currently facing possible disciplinary action from the California Medical Board. - PHOTO COURTESY OF THE SLO COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE
  • Photo Courtesy Of The SLO County Sheriff's Office
  • NEW HIRE Dr. Joye M. Carter was hired by the SLO County Sheriff's Office to serve as the county's new medical examiner. Carter replaces a contracted doctor Gary Walter, who was arrested for a DUI last year and is currently facing possible disciplinary action from the California Medical Board.

Dr. Joye M. Carter began her duties as the county's new medical examiner Sept. 11, according to a press release from the Sheriff's Office. Carter, an Air Force veteran, is a triple board certified physician specializing in the field of forensic pathology. She will be responsible for performing autopsies and medical examinations for the Sheriff's Office, consulting on suspicious deaths and homicide scene investigations, and testifying in court.

Prior to her new job in SLO County, Carter worked as a deputy chief medical examiner for the Armed Forces Medical Examiner Department; chief medical examiner for the District of Columbia; chief medical examiner of Harris County, Texas; and chief forensic pathologist to the coroner of Indianapolis, Indiana.

The Sheriff's Office did not release specific information about Carter's salary, but a job description posted on the county's website placed the salary range for the position between $204,672 and $248,788 annually.

Carter replaces the county's former contracted medical examiner Dr. Gary Walter, who came under fire for his conduct outside the office as well as his handling of recent high-profile death investigations. Walter's troubles began in March of 2016, when he was arrested for drunk driving by SLO police. Walter, who was working on contract for the Sheriff's Office at the time, pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor DUI charge and received three years probation.

Walter later came under fire for his report on the death of SLO County Jail inmate Andrew Holland, who died of a blood clot in one of his lungs in January after being strapped in a restraint chair for 46 hours. In his autopsy report, Walter classified Holland's death as "natural" and declined to specify whether his lengthy time in the chair caused it, drawing harsh criticism from Holland's family and their attorney.

Walter's work again came under scrutiny over his determination that Baylee Gatlin, a 20-year-old Ventura resident, died from "acute LSD poisoning" after attending the Lightning in a Bottle music festival in May. In an article by The Tribune, one expert said Walter's determination "defied logic," stating that an LSD overdose was "not possible"

According to court documents, Walter is currently facing possible disciplinary action from the California Medical Board in connection with his DUI arrest. Walter could lose his medical license as a result of the ongoing disciplinary proceedings. Δ


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