VALLEJO — Defense attorneys trying to get the murder case thrown out for a Vallejo man because of controversy within the Solano County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office spelled out additional reasons Monday why they believe prosecutors and local law enforcement are guilty of deliberately hiding evidence.
Judge Daniel J. Healy is expected to rule on the request to dismiss the case at a Thursday hearing.
The controversy began as early 2009 shortly after Dr. Susan Hogan started doing almost all autopsies in Solano County. Prosecutor Terry Ray complained in 2011 about Hogan’s autopsy in a shaken-baby death case, saying Hogan’s procedures forced her to make a plea deal in a murder case.
It was an email to Ray from Hogan sent in February 2013 that brought to a head simmering concerns about Hogan’s performance and credibility. The email was about Hogan’s autopsy on 13-year-old Genelle R. Conway-Allen. Hogan told Ray in the email, “just between you and me,” before sharing with Ray her opinion that the girl may have died accidentally during consensual sex.
Anthony L. Jones, the suspect in Conway-Allen’s killing, faces rape and murder charges. He has pleaded not guilty.
Sheriff Thomas Ferrera and District Attorney Don du Bain in March 2013 participated in a meeting with prosecutors that was part of an internal affairs investigation launched into Hogan that boiled down to concerns about five autopsies, according to court records.
Du Bain has declined to talk about the Hogan controversy.
One of those autopsies was for a woman who died from suffocation in a Vallejo motel room. Police believe she was suffocated by her boyfriend, Michael Daniels. His attorneys say the death was accidental and that Hogan could not reasonably rule it a homicide and had not initially deemed it a homicide, but changed her view after being pressured by Vallejo police and the prosecutor in Daniels’ case.
During the spring and summer of 2013, at least five prosecutors in du Bain’s office were questioned about Hogan or attended meetings in which she was the topic of discussion.
Correspondence from top Sheriff’s Office staff to Hogan culminated with an 86-page report and her being informed she was being fired as of Oct. 7, 2013. She was given the choice of resigning and was placed on administrative leave and was ordered not to be at the coroner’s office or Sheriff’s Office without an escort, according to court records.
Several weeks later, on Nov. 26, 2013, Hogan took the witness stand at Daniels’ probable cause hearing. The prosecutor in the case knew about the concerns with Hogan but Daniels’ defense attorneys knew nothing about what had unfolded in recent months. Defense attorneys did not know, as they do now, that in August 2012 Hogan refused to call the Vallejo death a homicide and that in 2013 a coroner’s investigator told his boss that he also could not call it a homicide.
Hogan testified during the probable cause hearing that the 2012 Vallejo hotel death could “represent” a homicide and was “most probably a homicide.” Hogan also testified she would be retiring in the upcoming days and that she knew nothing about any investigation.
Sheriff’s officials have said Hogan retired in December 2013.
Hogan said in an email to a prosecutor in January that she was “fired out of the blue for no reason” and was “escorted from the building by two huge sheriff’s deputies.”
Daniels’ jury trial on a murder charge is set to start March 10.
Reach Jess Sullivan at 427-6919 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jsullivandr.