A longtime deputy medical examiner for Tarrant County has been suspended from doing work in homicide cases after prosecutors admit he made a big mistake – missing a bullet in a murder victim’s body.
The examiner, Dr. Marc Krouse, has worked for the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s office since 1981, according to the county’s website.
The body of the murder victim, 19-year-old Alfredo Olivares, had to be exhumed under court order. He was shot to death on Valentine Street in Fort Worth in September.
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The Tarrant County District Attorney’s office has notified defense attorneys for as many as 40 other murder suspects there are questions about Krouse's credibility.
"The way I look at it, it's kind of like the grandfather's clock that strikes 13,” said defense attorney Christy Jack. “It calls into question all that came before."
Jack is a former prosecutor who represents a murder suspect awaiting trial. Dr. Krouse did the autopsy in his case.
"Anytime a professional's proficiency is on the line and you've just been handed what could be information that calls into question their expertise, it's a goldmine as a defense attorney,” she said.
The president of the Tarrant County Defense Lawyers Association, Benson Varghese, called for a full investigation.
"This is truly unprecedented,” Varghese said. “You have a very significant case. You have an individual who's high-ranking at the ME's office who's making a mistake that is not only profound but one that shouldn't have been made under any circumstance."
District Attorney Sharen Wilson declined to answer any questions about Olivares' case -- or Krouse's handling of the autopsy.
Defense attorneys fault prosecutors for not being more open.
"And that's something we're looking for - greater transparency,” Varghese said. “Right now we're having to piecemeal notices sent out to 40 different attorneys at least, see what's going on in each one of those individual cases, and try to find on our own what other mistakes have been made by Dr. Krouse over time."
The medical examiner's office declined to make Dr. Krouse available for an interview and Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani did not respond to a text message asking for comment.
Peter Cardona, 23, faces murder charges in connection with Olivares’ death and is out on bond awaiting trial, according to jail records.
His attorney, Emily LaChance, did not return a call seeking comment.