San Luis Obispo Hires First Full-Time Forensic Pathologist

San Luis Obispo County has hired its first full-time, in-house forensic medical examiner. Dr. Joyce Carter began working for the county last month at an annual salary of $248,788. She will be performing autopsies for the Sheriff-Coroner’s Office, consulting at suspicious death or homicide scenes, and sharing findings before the San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

Carter is the first African-American to be appointed a Chief Medical Examiner in the history of the United States, according to her website. She is also a published author and head of a publishing and consulting firm. She previously served as the deputy Chief Medical Examiner of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner Department, Chief Medical Examiner of the District of Columbia, and Chief Medical Examiner of Harris County, TX.

San Luis Obispo previously contracted with an outside pathologist, Dr. Gary Walter. That relationship deteriorated in 2016 when he was arrested for a DUI while on his way to an autopsy. The Board of Supervisors soon approved the hiring of a new, full-time examiner. Walter’s contract was allowed to expire June, though he continued to work on a month-to-month basis.


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