Tarrant County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Nizam Peerwani will retire at the end of September, ending a 42-year run that erupted recently in scandals amid investigations into mistakes in autopsies and questionable trial testimony in a death penalty case.
Peerwani, 74, notified county leaders of his decision in a formal retirement letter dated April 1, following reports his former top deputy made repeated mistakes in death investigations.
Peerwani's retirement is effective Sept. 30.
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Peerwani and county officials had not previously announced the retirement but confirmed it on Friday.
Peerwani has been Tarrant County medical examiner since July 1979 and also serves as medical examiner for Parker, Denton and Johnson counties.
In November, Peerwani suspended his longtime top deputy, Dr. Marc Krause, from doing autopsies in murder cases after Krause missed a bullet in an exam and the victim’s body had to be exhumed. Peerwani later audited Krause’s work in 40 death investigations and found Krause made 59 mistakes. Krause left the office earlier this month.
Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot was appointed special prosecutor and is investigating.
Also after Peerwani sent his retirement letter, Tarrant County Judge Molly Westfall found earlier this month Peerwani gave false and misleading testimony in a capital murder case in which the defendant is still on death row.
The judge ruled the defendant should get a new trial because of Peerwani's faulty testimony, but the appeals court has yet to decide whether a new trial is warranted.
Tarrant County defense attorneys on Tuesday called for a full investigation of the medical examiner's office, saying the scandals have tarnished the examiners' credibility about their testimony in pending and past murder cases.
Peerwani is not a county employee and works under a contract with Tarrant County.
In perhaps his highest-profile case, Peerwani supervised the autopsies of dozens of victims of the Branch Davidian siege in Waco in 1993, in which followers of a religious cult died in a fire after a standoff with federal agents.
Peerwani did not respond to text messages or emails seeking comment on his retirement.
"He's been an excellent medical examiner for the county," said longtime Tarrant County Commissioner J.D. Johnson. "He's done good work for us. I hate to see him go especially with a cloud over his operations."