- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The longtime Lewis and Clark County coroner, who recently caught up on finalizing the cause of death on dozens of death certificates, is no longer supervising two employees, county officials said.

Coroner Mickey Nelson, 71, came under fire after the state threatened to seek a court order to have him complete the 51 death certificates.

The county’s chief administrative officer, Eric Bryson, told the Independent Record (https://bit.ly/2a2cbFO) that he is supervising the employees who have been moved to a temporary office. Bryson declined to say why the staffers were relocated.

“There may be personnel-related matters I’m not at liberty to discuss at this point,” Bryson said.

County officials said they had received numerous complaints about delayed death certificates, leaving some families unable to settle estates and claim life insurance benefits.



The certificates were initially delayed because Nelson was awaiting lab or autopsy results, but they were never updated when the information became available, officials said. Two of the certificates dated back to 2011.

Nelson got the work done by a mid-July deadline. The newspaper has said he refused to resign from his elected position.

Bryson also said he plans to seek help from law enforcement officers to inventory the coroner’s evidence room. A former deputy coroner wrote in her resignation letter this spring that personal items from decedents are in the office, including weapons and medication, but are not stored in an organized fashion.

Another issue was raised in February, at the beginning of a deliberate homicide trial. The defense had wanted to analyze a cap that was worn by Timothy Newman when he was fatally shot in October 2013, but no one could locate it.

Days before the trial started, Nelson reported finding the cap in his office. The state agreed to pay for expedited analysis of the cap in order to avoid delaying the trial.

Nelson, who has served as coroner since 1974, did not answer his office phone on Tuesday and did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

___

Information from: Independent Record, https://www.helenair.com

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide