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SLO County hires first full-time coroner to replace embattled doctor

Dr. Joye Carter began working Monday as the first full-time medical examiner for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. She will conduct autopsies, perform medical reviews and testify about her findings in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.
Dr. Joye Carter began working Monday as the first full-time medical examiner for the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office. She will conduct autopsies, perform medical reviews and testify about her findings in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

For the first time, San Luis Obispo County has its own full-time medical examiner to perform vital autopsies and medical reviews for the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office and testify about her findings in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Dr. Joye Carter began working at the Sheriff’s Office Monday. The triple board certified physician brings with her more than 30 years of experience in forensic pathology, according to a news release.

In addition to autopsies and testimony, Carter will be on-call for consultations, suspicious death or homicide scene visits.

According to her website, Carter is the first African-American to be appointed a Chief Medical Examiner in the history of the United States. She previously worked as the deputy Chief Medical Examiner of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner Department, Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia, and Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County, TX.

She started a publishing and consulting firm in 2002, through which she published three books.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Carter is relocating from the Houston-area to become a full-time resident of San Luis Obispo County.

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Tony Cipolla did not immediately respond to a request for salary information, but an expired county job posting notes that the highest annual salary for the position is $248,788.

Carter’s hire comes after questions arose about the findings of the county’s longtime contracted medical examiner, Dr. Gary Walter, and Walter’s 2016 DUI arrest while on his way to an autopsy. In December, the county Board of Supervisors approved hiring a full-time medical examiner to replace Walter when his contract expired in June. Since then, he had been working month to month.

Attorney Paula Canny talks about the circumstances surrounding Andrew Holland's death in San Luis Obispo County Jail. Holland died of an embolism Jan. 22 after spending 46 hours strapped to a restraint chair.

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