Familiar faces asking for coroner reform

3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago Monday, January 27 2020 Jan 27, 2020 Monday, January 27, 2020 5:19:00 PM CST January 27, 2020 in News
By: Austin Walker, KOMU 8 News
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JEFFERSON CITY - Senate bill 554, the Missouri Coroner bill, is back on the floor, and Jay Minor is back for his third year fighting for justice for his son, Jayke Minor, who died in 2011. 

“I’m hoping I only have one more time here,” Minor said. “And that’s when Governor Parson is signing the bill.”

A 2018 KOMU Target 8 Investigation detailed a flawed autopsy from the Howard County Coroner, who ruled his cause of death to be a drug overdose solely due to Jayke's history. This new bill would update training requirements. 

The autopsy is not able to be redone and the family now knows the blood tested for Jayke only contained levels of THC. So, Minor began his journey two years after the confusion began.

The bill almost passed in the 2019 session, but one amendment that was added right before Gov. Parson's signature caused the bill to go unsigned.

Minor said the amendment had nothing to do with the goal of the original bill, and that the amendment pertained to outdoor burial and cremation.

"It was a little heartbreaking last year when we got right to the finish line and didn't quite cross it," Minor said. 

Willie Harlow, the Saline County Coroner, has been working with Minor on the bill. Harlow said older coroners are the ones opposing this bill.

“Back in the day, if they didn’t have a bullet hole or a knife sticking out, it was a natural cause,” Harlow said. “You can’t do that today.”

Harlow said he has not seen any updates in his line of work for way too long now. 

"Most statutes are over 80 years old," he said. "When it comes to salary, training, or technology, we've just been kind of left behind."

So Minor and Harlow are here now, ready for the change. 

"We're not going to give up this fight," Harlow said. "Before all is said and done, the Jayke Minor act will be passed."

State Sen. Jeanie Riddle, R-Callaway, is the bill sponsor. At the hearing, she said the Minors are not the only people looking for reform.

“It’s sad when you can’t explain to a family why their loved ones have passed away,” Riddle said.

Minor said he believes this is the year the bill will finally go through.

“This is the finish line,” he said. “I can see it.”

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