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Post Mortem

Death Investigation in America

A year-long investigation into the nation’s 2,300 coroner and medical examiner offices uncovered a deeply dysfunctional system that quite literally buries its mistakes.

Shake-Up Inside Forensic Credentialing Org

The nation's largest forensic expert college will sell its forensic accounting division, following a series of investigations by ProPublica and Frontline.

Hidden in a Heart, a Discovery ‘Beyond Belief’

Linda Carswell hoped a lab test might bring closure after her husband’s mysterious death in a Texas hospital. Then came the unimaginable results.

Facing a Second Trial, Ernie Lopez Takes Plea Deal

An Amarillo man whose conviction for sexually assaulting a child was reversed after experts questioned forensic evidence used against him, pleads guilty to a reduced charge.

No Forensic Background? No Problem

There are no national standards for forensic experts. This is how I, a journalism grad student, became certified by the American College of Forensic Examiners International, a leading provider of forensic credentials.

California Governor Commutes Sentence in Shaken Baby Case

California Gov. Jerry Brown today commuted the sentence of Shirley Ree Smith, a 51-year-old woman whose 1997 conviction for shaking her infant grandson to death has drawn national attention.

New Evidence in High Profile Shaken Baby Case

A doctor at the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office is challenging the forensic evidence at the center of a 1997 murder trial.

Video: Shirley Ree Smith in Her Own Words

Free, But Not Cleared: Ernie Lopez Comes Home

The case of an Amarillo man, released from prison last week, reflects a larger controversy over the reliability of scientific evidence in child death cases.

Pioneering a Way to Distinguish Blood Disorders From Child Abuse

Child deaths are especially challenging for coroners and medical examiners because several diseases have symptoms that can mimic those of abuse. Dr. Michael Laposata and his colleagues have designed a series of blood tests to diagnose such disorders more accurately.

Ernie Lopez to Face Charges Again

Despite detailed challenges to the medical evidence, prosecutor says he sees no change in the facts of the case.

Texas Court Voids Conviction in Child Death Case

The court set aside the conviction of Ernie Lopez, whose case we explored in our series on flawed death investigations.

A Far Cry From 'CSI'

The fate of Shirley Ree Smith, convicted of shaking to death her 7-week-old grandson, is in the hands of California's governor. Child deaths can pose special problems for forensic pathologists. Unfortunately, many forensic pathologists aren't prepared to deal with the complexity of such cases.

Gone Without a Case: Suspicious Elder Deaths Rarely Investigated

An investigation by ProPublica and PBS "Frontline" finds the system to examine unusual fatalities often fails seniors, leaving them vulnerable to neglect, abuse and even murder.

Why Can't Linda Carswell Get Her Husband's Heart Back?

For almost eight years, Linda Carswell has been trying to find out how her husband died. Her quest has led to a fraud judgment against a hospital as well as autopsy reform in Texas. But she’s still seeking answers — and the return of his heart.

Without Autopsies, Hospitals Bury Their Mistakes

Hospital autopsies have become a rarity. As a result, experts say, diagnostic errors are missed, opportunities to improve medical treatment are lost, and health-care statistics are skewed.

Post Mortem: The Story So Far

Q & A: A Prominent Advocate Presses for Better Investigations of Child Deaths

Dr. Carole Jenny argues for putting federal resources toward tracking pediatric maltreatment and for medical societies to crackdown on irresponsible testimony by forensic experts.

Casey Anthony Trial Shows the Limits of Forensic Science in Proving How a Child Died

The Casey Anthony trial riveted America, with many TV experts and viewers almost certain of the young mother’s guilt. But with no eyewitnesses or confession, the case demonstrated how difficult it was to prove to a scientific certainty how 2-year-old Caylee died.

The Child Cases

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