It was difficult to understand why the Alabama investigating coroner and sheriff's department had requested Alabama Forensics Examiner, Dr. Julia C. Goodin's presence in my son's death. Her name was scattered throughout the reports. I phoned her in 2008 and actually asked her about it. Even though she had relocated to Iowa, it was impressive that she kept a black book where she kept recorded the information of her Alabama autopsies when she was living and working in Mobile, Alabama ten years earlier.
Dr. Goodin explained that she hadn't performed the autopsy on my son's body but admitted I may have trouble finding the woman who did. Dr. Goodin also explained that forensics examiners do not go to the field nor attend crime scenes. Yet Baldwin County investigating detectives wrote otherwise in their reports. It was the next year after my son's death, 1999, that Dr. Goodin left Alabama and became Iowa's Chief forensics director. I am forever grateful for her honesty.
Note in this police report Huey A. Mack, then the investigating officer in charge, writes, "I contacted Coroner H. Mack and the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences and requested that Dr. Julia Goodin attend the scene."It's interesting to also note that Coroner "H. Mack" (Huey A. Mack, Sr.) was owner of Mack Funeral Home and also Deputy Huey A. Mack, Jr.'s father.
Note in this following image, Corporal John Garner of the Baldwin County Police Deparment writes:
"The body was not touched until Dr. Goodin and Kevin Putnam from the Forensic Lab arrived and they handled the body and shotgun."
1. Dr. Goodin is a native of Kentucky, coincidentally the same general area I would finally settle, find a home and attempt to live in peace.
2. Sometime shortly after the autopsy, Dr. Goodin left Alabama and took the highest paying forensics position in the state of Iowa.
3. In my conversation with Dr. Goodin, she retrieved a log where she kept records of autopsies she had been involved with. She offered the information freely. She seemed to be very honest and she was extremely helpful.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Don_Siegelman "The result was controversial, as on the night of the election, Siegelman was initially declared the winner by the Associated Press. Later, a voting machine malfunction in a single county, Baldwin County, was claimed to have produced the votes needed to give Siegelman the election."
Later, the same Baldwin County sheriff's department would be caught up in the questionable case of Angel Downs and Mobile County Commissioner, Steve Nodine. To assist in the prosecution Baldwin county beckoned one of its own, Dr. Jamie Downs, now a forensics officer for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, paying him $4,000 to testify in Steve Nodine's trial. Accounts show Dr. Downs had worked closely with the Baldwin County police in past years and in fact, 1998 had been appointed Director of the Forensics Department for the entire state of Alabama, by Attorney General, Bill Pryor.
Dr. Downs was in South Carolina before coming to Alabama, where he performed the autopsy of the Crystal Todd Case. People familiar with the case and area say they believe Downs also performed the autopsy of Amy Frink, a murder very similar to Crystal's. My eldest son was involved with Amy Frink. We were in shock when we read about her murder in the newspaper in 1992. It wasn't but a few weeks before that he'd been with her when we visited Ocean Isle Beach. Crystal had died in 1991 about 6 months before.
From the LAMAR DEMOCRAT AND SULLIGENT NEWS, "The Weekly Read Daily"
August 12, 1998, (page 15)
Pryor Appoints Mobile Medical Examiner as New Director of State Department of Forensics Sciences
MONTGOMERY, AL - Attorney General Bill Pryor announces his appointment of Dr. James Downs of Mobile, a medical examiner for the Department of Forensics Sciences, as state director to replace 10-year director Carlos Rabren, who is retiring at the end of this month.
"I am confident that the citizens of Alabama will be well served by Dr. Downs," Pryor said. "Of the many impressive candidates who applied for this job, I feel that James Downs is the most imminently qualified by his education, experience, and vision for the department's future. As a medical examiner for the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences since 1994, he has distinguished himself as a chief of Autopsy Service and of Investigative Services, and served as a morgue safety officer and supervisor of autopsy technicians. He currently serves as a consultant to the Behavioral Sciences Unit at the FBI academy in Quantico, Virginia, and has completed Peace Officers Standard Training at the Southwest Alabama Police Academy in Bay Minette."
Downs holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the University of Georgia and a doctorate of medicine from the Medical University of South Carolina, which residencies in anatomic pathology and clinical pathology and a fellowship in forensic pathology, all also from the Medical University of South Carolina. He has lectured extensively and is widely published on a number os specialized topics of forensic sciences.
Under state law, the Attorney General appoints the director of the apartment of Forensic Sciences. "This may be one of the most far-reaching and important decisions I make as Attorney General," Pryor said. "The director I have chosen will serve the law enforcement community and our state for many years to come. The retiring director, Carlos Rabren, has made a profound influence over the last 20 years, presiding over the modernization of DNA and firearms technology and bringing Alabama to the leading edge of the collection of forensic evidence."
The Attorney General was assisted in his appointment by a screening committee that was led by Jefferson County District Attorney David Barker and included Madison County DA Tim Morgan, Florence Police Chief Rick Singleton, Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ted Sexton, Baldwin County DA David WHetstone, Houston County DA Doug Valseka, and Montgomery Police Chief John Wilson. The committee narrowed the field of applicants to three for the Attorney General's decision.
"In some ways this was a difficult choice, because each finalist was well-qualified and would have made a fine director," Pryor said. "We were fortunate to have for final consideration Fred Taylor Noggle, Jr. of Auburn, a forensic scientist and drug chemist, and Dr. Gregory P. Wanger of Montgomery, a medical examiner, both serving in the Alabama Department of Forensics Sciences for several years. I am grateful to these men for offering their services, and to the committee for providing me with three exceptional candidates."
Rabren, who came to the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences as a teenage volunteer and continued to work part-time throughout his years of higher education, said he was "fortunate to have found a challenging and thrilling career at the early age of 15." He recalled with pride the department's tremendous technological advances in those 40 years of which he spent the last 20 as director.
Commending Pryor for his selection of Downs as his successor, Rabren praised the coming director as "dedicated and devoted to his responsibilities and service. He will maintain a standard of quality and determination, and diligence to get correct answers. I am confident that the employees of this agency, and law enforcement will enthusiastically back him."
Giving thanks to the great leadership of retiring director Carlos Rabren and those who preceded him, Downs praised them for the Department's exceptional personnel and for the high quality of the candidates from within the department. "My fervent desire is to continue to guide our ship on the right course," he stated.
"As we begin a new millennium, I think it essential to remember and redirect our department's attention to what we are and what we do," he said of his plans for the department. "From the very beginning's in the days of the Scottsboro boys to today, we have and must continue to stand for TRUTH. In our discipline, such truth is obtained through science. The new and exciting developments in science and technology combined with the tried and true methods of the forensic sciences are our tools. Scientific fact is what we as a department strive to find; in so doing, we hope to provide answers, those which implicate, and those which exonerate. Such facts are used in the legal process in the quest for justice."
In addiction to his professional accomplishments, Downs' community service includes representing Baldwin County on the Alabama Child Death Review Team. He is a vestry member and junior warden of Trinity Episcopal Church in Mobile, where he has served as an active member for many years. He and his wife, Heather Pennington Downs, have three children, Jennifer, Jessie and Grace and are expecting another child in mid-September.