Dallas Morning News 4/22/93
"Cultist's" lawyer criticizes Tarrant medical examiner
Fort Worth - Tarrant County Chief Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani,
responsible for investigating the deaths of the Branch Davidians,
drew critism Wednesday for his office's handling of several cases.
A Fort Worth attorney for a surviving cult memberand the family
of an Arlington woman whose 1991 death remains a mystery
questioned whether Dr. Peerwani's office is capable of
handling the Waco tragedy.
"I don't trust the integrety of Dr. Peerwani's office to do
this investigation," said Jeff Kearney, who is representing
cult member Jaime Castillo, jailed in Waco. "I think there's
a real question as to the integrity of the results that
come out of this office."
Dr. Peerwani was in Waco on Wednesday and could not be reached.
Darrell Thompson, Tarrant County medical assistant chief
medical investigator, defended the examiner's office in
a recent interview.
A top Tarrant County prosecutor also Dr. Peerwani's
reputation as excellent and said the critism was unjust.
Mr. Kearney cited four cases in recent years in which he
said work in Dr. Peerwani's office was lax.
In one, Mr. Kearney said that the wrong body was shipped
from the medical examiner's office to a Montague County
funeral home. In another, body parts of an automobile
accident victim were left at the scene and family members
had to recover them, Mr. Kearney said.
In a third case, Mr. Kearney said an erroneous toxicology
report led to a questionable homicide ruling. The case, in
which Mr. Kearney was a defense lawyer, ended in a mistrial
and prosecutors later dropped the charges against Mr.
The most recent case he cited involved the death of Corliss
Ancrum, 25, whose body was found in her Arlington apartment
in March 1991. The medical examiner's office first ruled
that Mz. Ancrum died of natural causes. That was later
changed to "undetermined."
Mz. Ancrum;s parents, in a $10 million lawsuit filed last
month against the Tarrant County medical examiner's office,
contends that the assistant pathologist who performed the
autopsy was neglegent because he lost their daughter's
larynx, which they contend prevented a final determination
of death. Edward and Jacquelyn Ancrum believed their
daughter was strangled.
"what he's doing is wasting taxpayer time and money," Mrs. Ancrum
said Wednesday as she and her husband picketed Dr.
Peerwani's office. "If he can't solve crimes here, how's
he going to solve 86 down in Waco."
Alan Levy, felony section chief for the Tarrant County
district attorney's office, said that he has confidence
in Dr. Peerwani and his staff.
"I think his record, so far as I know, has been
excellent," Mr. Levy said. "His reputation in the
scientific community and the legal community has been good."