Calgary forensic pathologist's work under investigation

The cases of a second forensic pathologist in Calgary are being investigated after an insurance company's question last fall into an accidental death showed inconsistencies.

Question sparks review of 13 homicide cases

The cases of a second forensic pathologist in Calgary are being investigated.

Alberta Justice Minister Verlyn Olson said the review was prompted by an insurance company's question last fall about an accidental death.

Three of four cases this pathologist worked on were peer-reviewed — and it was found that the pathologist's evidence was not supported in two of them.

"The review's priority will be cases currently before the courts, followed by cases that have already been concluded," said Olson. "The department is in the process of notifying defence counsel about the review of the forensic pathologists conclusions in criminal cases."

Gregg Lepp, the assistant deputy justice minister, says 13 homicide cases will now be reviewed.

"It's premature to determine whether we're going to re-open them," said Lepp. "Some of those cases would have resulted in conviction, some of them would have resulted in not in conviction — either in the charges not being pursued or in an aquittal. So we'll be reviewing all of them and then taking appropriate action once the review is completed."

The pathologist — whom the department will not name — worked in Calgary for 13 months.

This follows an investigation into the work of Dr. Michael Belenky, a Calgary pathologist whose criminal cases were re-checked after investigators raised concerns about an autopsy report prepared by Belenky for a criminal case.

That review found no miscarriages of justice.

Belenky was not a board-certified pathologist, although that designation — while desirable — was not required for the position with the medical examiner's office. He left his position in January 2011.

The medical examiner's officer says starting next month all homicide cases will be peer-reviewed.