Spokane County Commissioners stand by Medical Examiners under in - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Spokane County Commissioners stand by Medical Examiners under investigation

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SPOKANE, Wash. -

The Washington Department of Health is investigating two doctors with the Spokane County Medical Examiner's Office, and the office that appointed them stands behind them.

“The County stands behind the excellent public service Dr. Aiken and Dr. Howard provide to our community,” Spokane County Commissioner Board Chair, Al French wrote in an e-mail to KHQ. “Dr. Aiken and Dr. Howard are respected and esteemed by their colleagues for their professional, scientific, and compassionate approach to forensic death investigations. Quite frankly this region is fortunate to have such a resource.”

The investigation comes after a series of court record findings by Spokane County prosecutors and Spokane Police regarding the 2012 death of Kala Williams.

Dr. Howard ruled Williams’ death as undetermined despite court records that show she had defensive wounds, was dismembered, and had a person-of-interests DNA under her fingernails. 

“I think there is plenty of evidence stacked up that's overlooked,” said Williams’ aunt, Julie Beauchanie. “Physical evidence, DNA evidence, crime scene evidence.”

Micah Matthews, who is the deputy executive director for the Medical Quality Assurance Commission, confirmed on Monday that the department has opened an investigation against Dr. John Howard and Dr. Sally Aiken.

Matthews said someone filed a complaint with the office on April 21st, seeking to review a series of recent cause-of-death rulings. That person will remain anonymous.

“Something needs to happen and I hope something is heard,” said Beauchanie. “She deserves justice.”

“Determinations are based upon the evidence presented and national standards and guidelines,” French wrote. “Both Medical Examiners are Board certified in forensic pathology and the office is one of only 70 nation-wide that holds accreditation.”

French also wrote,  “Any manner of death determination by the Medical Examiner on the death certificate (suicide, accident, natural, undetermined or homicide) in no way should limit the ability of law enforcement to investigate to whatever extent they deem appropriate or necessary.”

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