A look at forensic autopsies conducted for victims in the Big Country

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ABILENE, Texas (KRBC)- Through forensic autopsies, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office handles unnatural deaths brought in from the public sector, including cases from the Big Country. 

Dr. Tasha Greenberg, a medical examiner for Tarrant County, said she considers her job a puzzle. 

“We may come up with things that were completely unexpected, that were not identified by police at the scene or not hint of that was given by family members who were interviewed,” Greenberg said. 
 

“We’re not working for the prosecution,” Greenberg said. “We’re not working for the defense. We’re not working for the commissioner’s court. We are working for the decedent and telling their story.”
 

That story, if properly told, can make or break a trial.

“A trial, if it occurs, has everything that it needs to ensure that a guilty person is appropriately convicted,” said Greenberg. “Conversely, if an innocent person is charged, perhaps some of the things that we come up with will help to prove that they didn’t do it.”

Dr. Greenberg said a trial can be hindered by a concept called the CSI effect, a warped interpretation of forensics, caused by the entertainment industry. 

“We had jurors sometimes basically say ‘Well, we can’t convict, because there’s no DNA,” said Greenberg. “Well there wouldn’t be DNA, because this person was shot from the length of a football field away.”

Regardless of a trial, she said finding concrete answering is not always easy.

“There are times when we really can’t find a reason, but it does happen” said Greenberg. “It’s frustrating, and we will work very hard and do everything that we can–perform every test that we can possibly think of  to try to come up with a reason why someone died.”

And, those answers can mean finding peace.


“I do have a folder where I keep a few wonderful letters and cards that I have received from families of patients who I have examined,” said Greenberg. “There’s certainly–certainly something for us to offer to families when their loved one or their friend dies.”

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