You are here
Rules violated in two autopsies
Questions regarding the legality of the second and third autopsies conducted on the body of eight-year-old Daniel Guerra have arisen by leading pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov. Alexandrov said he intended to write a formal request to the Medical Board of T&T to identify how many registered forensic pathologists were operating in T&T. Alexandrov assisted in the first autopsy which was performed by Dr Eastlyn McDonald-Borris at the Forensic Science Centre in St James. Their finding was that drowning was the cause of death.
A second autopsy, performed by Dr Hubert Daisley at the San Fernando General Hospital, concluded Daniel was strangled.
The third post-mortem, conducted by US pathologist Dr James Gill, revealed homicidal asphyxia as the cause of death. Alexandrov, however, charged that the autopsies conducted by both Daisley and Gill may be illegal and therefore had no legal grounds. Alexandrov said that in homicide cases, as was practised in the US and in the UK, a second or third autopsy could only be ordered by a judge or the investigators. Describing Daniel’s case as homicide verses possible accident, Alexandrov said if a family member had questions or concerns then “under no circumstances should be the autopsy be conducted on a payable basis.” He said the problem in T&T was that “too many people were doing autopsies and were not properly trained or qualified.”
“It is my understanding that Dr Daisley is not a certified forensic pathologist and if that is the case, then the second autopsy would be illegal,” Alexandrov said. As in the case of Gill, Alexandrov questioned whether he was granted a temporary medical licence upon his arrival to T&T. Estimating that Gill may have collected about US$3,000 to conduct the third post-mortem, also done at the San Fernando General Hospital, Alexandrov said if no licence was granted, then the third autopsy would also be deemed illegal. “A temporary licence must be issued by the Minister of Health when someone like a foreign pathologist is brought into another country to perform an autopsy,” he said. “Even if the licence is for 24 hours that must be done and if that was not the case then the third autopsy would be illegal because it would therefore mean that Dr Gill was not registered.
“A pathologist should be paid for his work and not for the result.” According to Alexandrov, “all acceptable rules were violated” in Daniel’s case. “Too many people who had never even seen the photographs of the crime scene or even examined the boy’s body were making wild speculations and this created an entire mess,” he said. “I have invested a lot of my knowledge in this country and I really like Trinidad, but let the serious cases be handled by professionals.” Regarding the status of the investigations, Alexandrov said he met with members of the soon-to-be-defunct Special Anti-Crime Unit of T&T (Sautt) on Friday. He said findings of his autopsy were discussed as officers tried to reconstruct possible scenarios.
The meeting, Alexandrov said, lasted an hour and a half. “The Sautt officers are not medical professionals...I showed them the photographs and explained the physiology,” he said. Saying he was wasn’t sure whether officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) were actually in Trinidad, Alexandrov said: “I have never been contacted by anyone from the FBI...I don’t know if they are under cover.” Daniel left his home on February 18 to purchase soft drinks at a parlour about 50 feet from his home at Bedeau Street, Gasparillo.
The child’s body was found on the bank of the Tarouba River, two days after, by a passer-by who had contacted the police.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.