A measure that would allow district attorneys or law enforcement agencies to request the state medical examiner’s office to withhold certain parts of autopsy reports for an indeterminate time passed a House committee Monday.
House Bill 3155 was written because of concerns that too much information was released about last year’s slaying of an Anadarko pastor and the 2008 killings of two Weleetka-area girls, said the measure’s author, Rep. Leslie Osborn. Both cases remain unsolved. The House Judiciary Committee passed the measure 10-1. It now goes to the full House. "We are only talking about a few discretionary items that might be needed for pending criminal investigations,” said Osborn, R-Tuttle. In the case of the Rev. Carol Daniels, who was killed and mutilated in August, most of the information would have been released, Osborn said. But her measure would have allowed prosecutors or law officers to request that such details as singed scalp hair and the body being staged be withheld, Osborn said. A similar measure failed to advance last year. Mark Thomas, executive director of the Oklahoma Press Association, said the bill has several flaws. The measure’s restrictions started out dealing only with homicides, but have expanded to include unknown and pending causes of death, he said. The bill also doesn’t place a time limit on withholding the information, he said. "It can be confidential forever,” Thomas said.
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