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Detective testifies in hearing to remove coroner
BROWN COUNTY, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- It's a contentious day in a Brown County courtroom as the county coroner fights to keep her job. Hundreds of people want to see Dr. Judith Varnau ousted.
Dr. Varnau is accused of insensitivity and mishandling cases and has a history of problems with the Brown County Sheriff's Department.
Thursday is day two of a hearing that could end with her removal from office. Her attorney is trying to establish that it's the sheriff's policy should be on trial. He is trying to present to judge that the cases at issue were not botched by coroner, that she's been trying to do what she can within confines of this working relationship. Brown County Sheriff, Dwayne Wenninger is waiting to testify
Before that happens, Detective John Schadle testified what this policy is. "We make an initial assessment at the scene, if we think it's suicide, criminal, natural or whatever. We're very limited in what we can and can't do but we do have the latitude to go in and render first aid or assist life-saving efforts. Once it is determined by the medics that the person is deceased, the coroner's notified. At no time has she requested an investigation that we haven't sent BCI. We're not denying her an investigation, we're simply not doing it hands on, for the simple reason that it puts our deputies in a very perilous position. If they go in and disturb something that she determines is part of her scene, their career could be over."
Dr. Varnau's attorney had an initial list of 23 people to put on the stand. It's believed that list has been whittled down. There has also been a discussion in court about the evidence that may or may not be presented and that may also impact the number of witnesses testifying Thursday. It's expected the sheriff and additional deputies will testify.
This is the only time in Ohio history, that case like this has gone to trial to remove a coroner from office.
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