The Ramsey County District Attorney reviews cases that are binding on the original investigator

The Ramsey County District Attorney’s Office is considering more than 70 criminal charges related to the county medical examiner amid “serious” criticism of his work in two separate death investigations. .

Ramsey County District Attorney John Choi said his staff worked with an outside firm to consolidate the hundreds of cases Dr. Michael McGee testified, and his trial was reduced to 71 cases.

“It is very important that we are committed to the integrity of our beliefs,” Choi said in an interview on Thursday. “My job is not to be there to protect an execution at any cost, my job is to do justice and do that job without fear or pleasure, I will do anything what the court needs because of this review.”

McGee was the county medical examiner from 1985 to 2019 and continued to work for the department as a medical examiner until retiring in 2021. As a medical examiner, he also served Washington County borders and more than a dozen outlying counties.

McGee could not be reached for comment Thursday.

In September 2021, US Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Ralph Erickson vacated the federal death penalty in 2006 due to McGee’s investigations. The judge called parts of his testimony “unreliable, false and inaccurate”.

Alfonso Rodriguez Jr. was convicted in federal court in the 2003 kidnapping and murder of University of North Dakota student Dru Sjodin. His next sentence is pending.

Sjodin was kidnapped from a parking lot in Grand Forks, ND, in November 2003, and her body was found in a field near Crookston, Minn. in April 2004.

At trial, McGee “testified that he believed Sjodin’s neck was cut where his body was found …,” according to the opinion. He identified four possible causes of death: cuts, suffocation, suffocation or exposure to cold if the injuries were not fatal.

“The evidence in the record shows that McGee did more than just follow where the evidence and science led him.

“McGee presented the government with a theory that should be punished. It cannot be supported by competent evidence.”

On appeal, some experts reviewed the evidence and testimony in the evidentiary court.

“Not a single expert called to testify at trial supported McGee’s conclusion that there was evidence that Sjodin’s neck was cut,” according to this idea.

Choi said that even though the case was outside of his Ramsey County jurisdiction, he could not ignore the judge’s “harsh” criticism of his hometown doctor.

“We have to take it seriously,” Choi said.

Choi hired the Prosecution Center for Good, an independent non-profit, recommends a course of action and assists in evaluating issues. They sought cases where the cause of death is a matter “that needs to be considered by the prosecutor as well as the fact finder and the defense attorney.”

Prosecutors will review medical examination files, prosecution files and court transcripts in the remaining 71 cases. Choi said they will also hire a nationally recognized foreign medical examiner to assist in the evaluation.

Questions about McGee deepened last week, when a Kandiyohi County judge dropped a 1998 murder charge that hinged on his testimony. Thomas Rhodes, now 63, was charged in 1998 with first- and second-degree murder in the death of his wife, 36-year-old Jane Rhodes, who fell overboard and drowned. at night with his wife in 1996. .

The manslaughter charge rested on McGee, who said Rhodes grabbed his wife by the neck, threw her overboard and drove the boat overboard several times, the said the Office of the Attorney General of the government last week. Rhodes told investigators that his wife had fallen from the boat and he was unable to find her.

The Conviction Review Unit at the Attorney General’s Office investigated the matter. As part of that investigation, a medical examiner found Jane Rhodes’ death was not consistent with an accidental fall, officials said.

Rhodes dropped his murder charge this month after serving nearly 25 years in prison, pleading guilty to manslaughter. He left prison on January 13.

“Obviously what happened last Friday adds to the urgency and need to do this,” Choi said. “In some ways, I feel vindicated because we’re spending a lot of money on this.”

The district has spent $175,000 on two contracts with the Court of Excellence, Choi said. His staff is coordinating with the The Minnesota Attorney General’s Office of Review Division and the Very cold Cleaning ProjectMcGee-related cases from outside of Ramsey County are also being reviewed.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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