Brown County coroner to remain in office until May hearing

Brown County coroner to remain in office until May hearing
File photo.
File photo.

GEORGETOWN, OH (FOX19) - A decision out of Brown County generates mixed reactions after a judge says the coroner can stay. Dr. Judith Varnau is accused of mishandling crime scenes since she took office in 2013. Friday's ruling means she will not be suspended pending a trial to remove her from office.

The judge's ruling comes after a hearing on Tuesday where Dr. Varnau defended herself saying the sheriff's office is not cooperating with her at death scenes. The families asking for her removal say both offices should be ashamed of themselves.

In December 2013, Josh Carter died from a gunshot wound. What happened next stunned his family.

"My son is laying on the floor dead. Didn't cover him up. People gawking at him," says Ken Carter, Josh's father.

Carter says the sheriff's office along with Dr. Varnau acted unprofessional ruling his son's death a suicide without proper investigation.

"They disrespected my son from the time they got there until the time they left," says Carter.

Tuesday, Dr. Varnau defended herself in court at a hearing to suspend her pending a trial to remove her from office. There, the sheriff's office and Dr. Varnau pointed fingers at each other.

"Ma'am it is very difficult to have conversations with you because of your attitude and your husband's interference," testified Brown County Chief Deputy John Schadel.

"I believe I am acting according to what the law lets me do. I cannot do anything more than determine the cause and manner of death," replied Dr. Varnau.

Friday a judge ruled against the suspension. It is a decision the plantiff's attorney Tracy Hawkins says could have serious consequences.

"A little surprised. Not entirely surprised but a little surprised because of the consequences this may have on families who lose loved ones, friends in the interim. On the brighter note, it is only 20 days from the final hearing. We've endured this for more than a year. We can endure it for another 20 days," says Hawkins.

Dr. Judith Varnau declined to comment on the judge's ruling. The trial to remove her from office is set to begin May 14th.

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Judge hears testimony against Brown County Coroner

Suit: Brown Co. coroner didn't fully investigate man's death

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