Coroner receives Palmer’s autopsy results

Published 12:01 am Saturday, February 9, 2008

Editor’s note: This story was updated to correct an error of fact. We regret the error and are happy to correct it.

NATCHEZ — On Wednesday, Adams County Coroner James Lee received Dr. Barbara Lynn Palmer’s autopsy results.

Palmer died unexpectedly on July 13 at a Jackson hospital.

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On Thursday, Lee provided a copy of the autopsy to the Adams County District Attorney’s Office.

And on Friday, Lee provided another copy of the autopsy to Marshall Hawkins, Palmer’s husband.

Lee said the autopsy’s findings are not public record.

“I cannot speak on a confidential matter,” he said.

Lee said he only became involved with the autopsy at the request of the Hinds County Coroner’s Office.

“The involvement I had was very minimal,” he said.

Lee said a deputy from the Hinds County office contacted him for his assistance in the autopsy on July 14, one day after Palmer’s death.

Lee was contacted after Hinds’ pathologist was unable to determine Palmer’s manner of death.

Her cause of death was reportedly bacterial septicemia, but the manner in which she died was in question.

The manner of death can be anything from natural causes, accidental causes or criminal means.

It is not uncommon for one coroner’s office to help another, Lee said.

After agreeing to help, Lee ordered a forensic autopsy from Chief State Pathologist Steven Hayne.

In August, Lee said a forensic autopsy was ordered because it delves deeper into the cause of death.

That autopsy was ordered nearly seven months ago.

Lee said it is not unusual for an autopsy to take months.

But the results from the autopsy, at present, are only known by a very small group of people.

Hawkins could not be reached for comment.

District Attorney Ronnie Harper said he was not at liberty to reveal the results of the autopsy.

Lee said once the state medical examiner files the final autopsy results, a death certificate can be issued.

Palmer’s death certificate was not issued in the past because the manner of death could not be determined.

Lee said he has no way of knowing when the final autopsy will be submitted for filing.

Once the autopsy is filed, Palmer’s death certificate will be public record.