New York woman asks judge for review of autopsy in child’s death

Published 11:47 pm Saturday, March 8, 2008

A New York woman charged with manslaughter in the 2003 death of her child has asked a judge to order a review of the autopsy findings in the case.

Tina Funderburk is accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter, Reina Russell, in June 2003 and leaving the child’s body in a wooded, swampy area near an old Greyhound bus terminal in Jackson. She was passing through with her daughter and son on a bus trip from New York.

Funderburk, 32, had claimed that she lost her way when she went back to get the child. Authorities later found the child’s remains

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Hinds County Assistant Public Defender Matthew Eichelberger, who represents Funderburk, filed a lawsuit this week against the vacant state medical examiner’s office and Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham-Stewart. A petition for review of the autopsy filed with the state Medical Examiner last month was rejected.

The Mississippi Department of Public Safety has contended that no review of the autopsy can be done because the medical examiner office is vacant. If ordered to do a review, officials said they hire forensic and/or pathological personnel to perform the re-examination.

Eichelberger said the final autopsy report by pathologist Dr. Steven Hayne stated the cause of death was suffocation and the manner of death was a homicide.