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Proposal would keep Oklahoma autopsy files secret

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: March 26, 2010 at 6:21 am •  Published: March 26, 2010
Information on autopsy reports would be confidential under a measure approved by a Senate committee on Thursday.

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved House Bill 3155 by Rep. Leslie Osborn, R-Tuttle, and Sen. Ron Justice, R-Chickasha. The committee, however, removed the bill’s title. A bill must have a title to become law.

HB 3155 would keep the cause of death and other information contained in an autopsy report secret. Details in those reports are sometimes the only evidence an investigator has to develop leads and releasing that information to the public can make it more difficult to solve a case, said Jessica Brown, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.

Brown said information released on autopsy reports in two recent high-profile cases may have made it more difficult to find suspects because information that only some close to the crime would know is now common knowledge and published.

In the 2008 murder of two Weleetka girls, the autopsy reports showed the location of gunshot wounds on the two young girls. In the case of the Rev. Carol Daniels, who was killed in Anadarko in August, the report showed that Daniels’ hair had been burned.

Brown said releasing these details to the public hampered the investigations. Both cases remain unsolved.

"When there’s not an abundance of evidence, that information becomes very important in developing leads,” she said.

Under the proposed changes, very little information would be available and the cause of death would not be included in information given to the public.


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