DINWIDDIE, Va. (WRIC) — A Dinwiddie Circuit Court judge denied a request from one of the 10 people charged in Irvo Otieno’s death who asked to keep the body from being released in case they wanted to get a second autopsy.
The attorneys for Kaiyell D. Sanders, a sergeant with the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office, filed a motion to keep Otieno’s body available for inspection in case an independent autopsy was pursued after the medical examiner’s autopsy report is finalized.
Dinwiddie Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Cabell Baskervill has said Otieno, 28, was suffocated to death — also known as asphyxiation — but an autopsy report has not been finalized. In court Wednesday, Sanders’ attorneys said the medical examiner informed them it could be up to 12 weeks before the report is released.
In the motion, Sanders’ attorneys wrote they considered it “highly unlikely” they would seek to conduct another autopsy, but that without a court order Sanders would be “unjustly deprived of his ability to inspect the physical evidence through an independent autopsy.”
They reiterated those concerns during Sanders’ bond hearing Wednesday, telling Circuit Court Judge Joseph M. Teefey Jr. that Otieno’s body would be “further handled” if released after the autopsy, “irreparably” removing their client’s ability to inspect evidence through a second autopsy as a result.
Judge Teefey challenged that argument, saying that raising those concerns was “starting down the road of speculation” and that Sanders’ attorneys could ask for an independent examiner to be present during the autopsy.
The judge asked Sanders’ legal counsel if they had any basis that another examination would be needed, whether they had retained an examiner for a second autopsy and if they had notified Otieno’s family of the possibility.
One of Sanders’ lawyers told the judge they did not have any evidence indicating that a second autopsy would be necessary, did not reach out to Otieno’s family about the motion or have a third-party examiner.
Judge Teefey rejected the motion Wednesday, but his denial of the effort does not prevent Sanders, or any of the other nine people charged with second-degree murder in Otieno’s death, from making another bid to preserve the body as physical evidence.
“For this court to step forward at this point and enter the kind of order that you’re asking for, not only is one that would be speculative in nature but counsel, quite frankly, we’re not talking about a t-shirt or a vile of blood,” Teefey said. “We’re talking about the dignity of a human body.”
Baskervill said in court Wednesday that Sanders “is the most culpable of any” of the 10 people charged in Otieno’s death on March 6, pointing out that he’s a sergeant in the Henrico County Sheriff’s Office while the other six working in the office were deputies. He was granted a $25,000 secured bond.
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News for updates.