The Edmond Sun

March 3, 2010

ME changes likely to delay ‘Bicycle Bob’ hearing

Lawmakers seek funding to fill pathologist positions

James Coburn
The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — A key hearing in the “Bicycle Bob” homicide case likely will be delayed due to the loss of the top two pathologists in the state medical examiner’s office, a county prosecutor said.

Scott Rowland, first assistant district attorney in the Oklahoma County DA’s office, said the firing of Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Collie M. Trant and the recent resignation of Dr. Eric Duval, deputy chief medical examiner, mean it is likely that the preliminary hearing for defendants in the Dwite Morgan homicide case will be delayed.

Rowland said after Trant’s dismissal, the DA’s office learned that the autopsy report on Dwite Morgan was incomplete. Duval’s exit added further certainty as to the possibility of a delay, Rowland said.

A final decision on postponement of the preliminary hearing in the Morgan case likely will be made this week, Rowland said.

The 54-year-old Morgan, widely known in Edmond as “Bicycle Bob,” was found dead Oct. 18 in his sleep spot near downtown.

Connor Adam Mason, 20, of Edmond, and Nikolas David Kerr, 20, of Edmond, face a first-degree murder charge, and Heather Irene Holden, 20, of Edmond, faces an accessory after the fact of first-degree murder charge in Morgan’s death.

Morgan autopsy report incomplete

Cherokee Ballard, spokeswoman for the ME’s office, said because of Trant’s firing a number of cases were reassigned to other pathologists. One of them was the report on Morgan’s autopsy. Ballard said she did not know the total number of cases affected by Trant’s departure.

Tom Jordan, chief administrator for the ME’s office, said Duval resigned to take a position in his home state. Jordan said Duval never really intended to work in Oklahoma for a long period of time. Duval’s resignation became final on Feb. 22.

In June, the National Association of Medical Examiners determined that the Oklahoma City ME’s office fails to meet the minimum criteria established for accreditation.

The Oklahoma City ME’s office performs about 1,400 autopsies/views per year, according to the association’s inspection findings. About six to seven pathologists would be needed for this workload. There was not enough space to accommodate the needed extra tables.

Jordan said the Oklahoma City ME’s office receives 50-60 new cases a week.

Lawmakers seek funding

Jordan said state legislative leaders are seeking funding to fill at least two pathologist positions at the Oklahoma City office.

“Two would be a home run, three grand slam,” he said.

Jordan said appreciated support has come from House Speaker Chris Benge, R-Tulsa, Senate President Pro Tem Glenn Coffee, R-Oklahoma City, and state Rep. Randy Terrill, R-Moore.

“They’re trying the best they can to obtain some funding to get us out of our current case backlog,” Jordan said.

In recent months, support has grown behind efforts to move the Oklahoma City ME’s office to Edmond. Benge and Coffee have authored legislation that would require it to be located near the OSBI Forensic Science Center and the University of Central Oklahoma Forensic Science Institute.

In a previous report, state Rep. Doug Cox, R-Grove, who once attempted to kill the legislation, told The Sun his fears about an issue with the proposed proximity were unfounded and he now supports the move.                                    | 341-2121, ext. 108