March 22, 2013 10:45:54 AM
HATTIESBURG -- A woman who was acquitted in the death of her boyfriend has sued the medical examiner who testified at her 2010 trial.
Jennifer Wardle Hollis seeks unspecified damages from Dr. Steven Hayne, who she alleges provided incorrect information to the Forrest County jury during her trial.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Hattiesburg. Hayne has not responded to the lawsuit. No trial date has been set.
Hollis was indicted for murder in 2007 in the shooting death of James Neal May on May 1, 2002. A jury acquitted her on March 18, 2010.
In her lawsuit, Hollis said May shot himself, and both the Lamar County Coroner's Office and sheriff's investigators ruled the death a suicide, presenting the case to a grand jury twice without indictment until Hayne came along.
The man's body was exhumed so Hayne could conduct an autopsy that resulted in the determination that the death was not a suicide, the complaint states.
Hollis argues Hayne's report caused her to be prosecuted.
"His actions in reporting these unsupported claims and findings were fraudulent, or in the alternative, were reckless and negligent," the complaint asserts.
Hayne was removed from Mississippi's list of designated pathologists in 2008. Hayne, who lacked national board certification in forensic pathology, performed contract autopsy work for the state during the gap between 1995 and 2011 when the state had no chief medical examiner.
The quality and volume of his work grew criticism from groups like the Innocence Project and other advocacy groups within the criminal justice community.