Autopsy finds HOMICIDE as manner of death in O’Connell case

MICHELLE O'CONNELL

MICHELLE O’CONNELL

Historic City News is sad to report that the findings no one wanted to hear, but many have suspected, have been reported this weekend in the post-mortem forensic autopsy of Michelle O’Connell; performed at her family’s request on January 12, 2016.

Monday, May 23rd, a televised report by Bill Anderson, a well-known forensic pathologist based in Orlando and the physician who performed the examination on O’Connell’s exhumed remains, will reportedly explain why he believes the death of the 24-year-old mother of Alexis was not a suicide.

“All those people making assumptions that this was a suicide were unaware of the existence of the fractured mandible,” Dr. Anderson tells the Crime Watch Daily reporters; referring to his discovery that blunt-force trauma fractured O’Connell’s jawbone, incapacitating her before she was shot. “That’s a different injury pattern and creates a whole different scenario in the case.”

A Florida licensed private investigator, Clu Wright, has assisted the O’Connell family in arranging the exhumation and second physical autopsy of the decedent. He located Dr. Anderson and two forensic dentists who performed their examination without charge.

Dr. Anderson has worked in medical examiner’s offices across the country and has testified in court as an expert witness. It is common practice for independent expert witnesses to be compensated for their time and travel to court. Investigator Wright says that the family fully expected to owe the three doctors twenty thousand dollars, or more. Wright was humbled to learn that they would donate their services in the pursuit of the truth; a donation that he said he has made himself with his own investigation fees.

At issue and fueling the controversy surrounding the death of Michelle O’Connell is the fact that she and her three-year-old daughter were living in the home of deputy sheriff Jeremy Banks — the man Michelle’s mother, Patty O’Connell, says overpowered her daughter, struck with enough force to fracture her jaw, then shot and killed with his own service pistol.

Deputy Banks, who nearly six-years later is still employed as a St Johns County deputy, was never investigated by the sheriff as a suspect. In fact, he is the person who reported the gunshot and death of his one-time girlfriend to the sheriff’s office where he is employed. He told communications officers, emergency medical personnel who responded, and investigators at the scene, that Michelle had locked him out of the bedroom with his firearms after the couple had a domestic argument. He said that he had stepped outside the residence when he heard the gunshots. Jeremy Banks has never taken a police polygraph to test the truthfulness of his account of the evening’s events.

Banks is represented by a controversial local lawyer in St Augustine, Robert M. “Mac” McLeod. The one-time prosecutor-turned-personal-injury lawyer also is representing the late O’Connell’s brother, Scott, in two separate civil lawsuits seeking money from Rusty Rodgers; the Florida Department of Law Enforcement agent who was called in after-the-fact to look into the circumstances surrounding the in-house handling of the incident.

The family, through their investigator, is taking the new findings to the District 23 Medical Examiner. They are asking given the circumstances and medical conclusion of homicide as the manner of death that the case be brought before an independent grand jury to see if they will reach the same conclusion as the local sheriff.

A response from Sheriff Shoar was received by Historic City News on Sunday evening after news broke of the Monday broadcast. The letter has been published on our website.

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