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Kleberg County DA expresses concern over cases handled by recently fired medical examiner

Kleberg County is one of 19 area counties that let the Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office handle their autopsies.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Kleberg County District Attorney said he is reviewing cases that may have been handled by a Nueces County deputy medical examiner who was recently fired. 

Just last week, Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Sandra Lyden was fired from the Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office because she reportedly was unable to produce a temporary license to practice medicine in Texas. 

RELATED: Nueces County Deputy Medical Examiner fired for practicing without a license

Now, an investigation into the 33 cases that Dr. Lyden reportedly handled is raising some concerns in Kleberg County. That's because Kleberg County District Attorney John Hubert said his county is one of 19 in the area who use the Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office for their autopsies.

"We have not been contacted about specific findings at this point," Hubert said. "And we have begun to review files to see which cases may or may not involve anyone from the Nueces medical examiners."

Chris Gale is the attorney for Nueces County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Adel Shaker. Gale believes that the situation needs to be further assessed to find out who is at fault. 

"If there is some sort of fault on the part of a party there actually needs to be a determination on where that fault lies," Gale said. "And so far it just doesn't lie with my client although he seems to be the lamb being offered.

Hubert also told 3News that he specifically asked for Dr. Rey Fernandez to do autopsies for Kleberg County despite the fact that Fernandez is retired as the Chief Medical Examiner and now works on an as-needed basis

"We specifically ask for him because we have a good working relationship with him and because he has extensive knowledge in the field," Hubert said. "He's extremely easy to work with. He's just a great asset."

3News contacted Nueces County First Assistant District Attorney Angelica Hernandez to try and get a status report on the investigation, but she told 3News she cannot comment because it is an open and ongoing criminal investigation.

RELATED: Nueces County looking to national firm to replace fired deputy chief medical examiner

3News also learned that Dr. Sandra Lyden allegedly ruled during an autopsy that the death of a Corpus Christi woman was caused by "blunt force injuries." This was later determined to be incorrect after a second autopsy was performed at the request of the Nueces County District Attorney's Office. That second autopsy determined that the cause of death was "natural causes." 

According to a release by the Nueces County Commissioner's Court, the court has assigned its court manager to hire a national recruiting firm to find qualified applicants for vacancies at the Medical Examiner's Office.

Nueces County Judge Barbara Canales said Dr. Adel Shaker is still running the Medical Examiner's Office and doing autopsies. She said the County is working on hiring a new deputy chief medical examiner and would like to actually bring on another doctor to help out as well.

"Ideally we have a medical examiner and a deputy medical examiner, and we would also ideally like to have a part-time medical examiner," Canales said. "We would like to have three, ideally, to be able to handle the volume that we have."

Canales also told 3News that the medical examiner issue will be addressed again during next Wednesday's Nueces County Commissioner's Court meeting.

More from 3News on KIIITV.com:

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