September 25, 2012 10:22:31 AM
JACKSON -- A Georgia woman had little chance of surviving an illegal cosmetic procedure in Mississippi because the silicone-like substance that was injected in her buttocks caused the blood clots in her lungs that killed her, an investigator testified Monday.
Lee McDivitt, an investigator with the Mississippi attorney general's office, testified during a preliminary hearing for 52-year-old Morris Garner. Garner, who has had gender changing procedures and goes by the name Tracey Lynn Garner, is charged with depraved-heart murder in the March death of 37-year-old Karima Gordon, of Atlanta.
Hinds County Judge Houston Patton sent the case to a grand jury and ordered Garner to remain jailed without bond.
Garner's lawyer, John Colette, said that even if the allegations are true, he doesn't believe it is depraved-heart murder, which is defined in Mississippi as a "callous disregard for human life" that causes death. It carries a life sentence.
Colette also was critical of McDivitt's testimony that state charges were filed because they were stronger than federal charges that might have applied. Georgia authorities initially contacted the U.S. Food and Drug Administration after Gordon's death.
McDivitt testified that Gordon became ill within 30 minutes of leaving Garner's house in Jackson after the injection, but decided to try to make it home to Georgia before seeking medical treatment. He said her chance of surviving the injections was small, anyway. The substance has been sent for testing, but McDivitt described it as being similar to silicone.
"That substance is what is causing the embolisms to be drawn into the lungs, blood clots, per se, embolisms," the investigator said.
McDivitt recounted an interview with the medical examiner, who said "brain surgery would probably be a less invasive surgery than having to remove the buttocks of this victim all the way down to the meat and bone to get all of this substance out of her."
McDivitt said of the autopsy: "The doctor told me there were needle marks in the victim and they cut the victim open. Excessive amount of this material ran all over the floor, all over their shoes, all over the place."
Authorities have said Gordon wanted to be a model and found Garner through the Internet and a third person known as "Pebbles."
McDivitt said a woman who traveled with Gordon to Mississippi also considered having the injections, but was "taken back" by Garner's size and didn't have the $1,500 to pay for it. Hinds County Jail records say Garner is 6 foot 2 and weighs 225 pounds.
Garner is not registered as a doctor or nurse and Colette has said his client has worked as a floral and interior designer.
Garner was arrested Sept. 6, according to jail records.
Deaths from illegal cosmetic procedures happened sporadically around the country as people seek cheaper alternatives to plastic surgeons. A New Jersey woman pleaded not guilty to giving a man a fatal dose of silicone during a penile enhancement procedure in May.
Colette said during Monday's hearing that there's a "subculture" that seeks out such treatments. He has previously said that Gordon was an adult entertainer in Atlanta and had undergone other cosmetic procedures.