DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — The autopsy and toxicology reports related to the in-custody death of 28-year-old Irvo Otieno are complete, according to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) — but have not been released to the victim’s family, defense attorneys or the Dinwiddie County Circuit Court Clerk’s Office.
OCME Administrative Deputy Arkuie Williams confirmed to 8News on Tuesday that the aforementioned reports existed, but were exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) — under which 8News filed a legal information request — citing sections of the Code of Virginia regarding the confidentiality of “certain information and records collected and maintained by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.”
This comes after the OCME released Otieno’s official cause and manner of death — “positional and mechanical asphyxia with restraints and the manner of death is homicide” — on April 3. However, 8News’ FOIA requests for copies of the actual reports was also denied.
Following Otieno’s death in the custody of Henrico County Sheriff’s deputies at Central State Hospital on March 6, 10 individuals were charged with second-degree murder, including seven deputies and three hospital employees. Defense attorneys for the suspects have maintained, over the course of several weeks, the importance of the autopsy and toxicology reports in this case.
“The discovery process, that is the formal process by which, you know, the defendant, any defendant in any criminal case, becomes advised of what the government’s evidence is against them,” Russ Stone, defense counsel for Deputy Dwayne Bramble, said on April 3. “Then, you have to see where you go from there. It’s kind of hard to make predictions because, until you actually know what the evidence is, you can’t.”
Stone confirmed with 8News this week that he and other defense attorneys who had filed motions for discovery had not received the OCME reports. Dinwiddie County Circuit Court Clerk J. Barrett Chappell also said that his office had not received “anything.” The judge presiding over these cases previously ruled that discovery items be sealed moving forward.
“We are not mandated to provide a copy of our reports to the Clerk’s Office. We are only mandated to provide a copy to the Commonwealth’s Attorney and the investigating law enforcement agency,” Williams said in an email to 8News on Friday. “Private attorneys will issue subpoena duces tecum to obtain copies of records.”
A subpoena duces tecum is a type of subpoena, or court summons, ordering the recipient to produce a document or documents pertinent to a proceeding.
The completion of the autopsy and toxicology reports regarding Otieno’s death came several weeks earlier than initially anticipated. In court on March 22, defense attorneys noted that the OCME had advised that the autopsy and toxicology reports would not be finalized for another 10-12 weeks.
“On average, autopsy reports typically take about 12-14 weeks before they are final,” OCME Central District Administrator Lakeshia Johnson said. “It can be sooner or longer depending on the circumstances and types of tests our pathologist may submit for.”
Civil right attorneys representing Otieno’s family also said that, as of Friday, they still did not have copies of any completed OCME reports.
Dinwiddie County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Baskervill did not respond to questions Friday about whether she had received the autopsy and toxicology reports.
Defendants are due back in court on April 26, May 3, or May 10.