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6 Investigates: Nueces County deputy chief medical examiner accused of practicing without a license

Posted at 5:01 PM, Jan 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-21 19:14:49-05

CORPUS CHRISTI — The chief deputy of the Nueces County Medical Examiner's Office reportedly has been practicing medicine without a license, according to a search-warrant affidavit obtained by KRIS 6 News on Friday.

It states the allegations were made after Sandra Lyden ruled a 27-year-old woman died as a result of a fractured neck on Jan. 3.

A second autopsy, later done by an independent medical examiner, found the woman died of natural causes.

A Corpus Christi Police Department investigation into the death found that Lyden currently does not have a license to practice medicine in Texas, according to the affidavit. Her last temporary emergency permit to practice medicine was terminated in November 2006, seven months before it was set to expire in June 2007.

The police were involved in the case after Lyden determined the death to be a homicide. CCPD Det. Jason Smith questioned Lyden during the course of his investigation, and later called into question her account of how she determined the woman's cause of death. Smith's concerns prompted the Nueces County District Attorney's Office to seek out the second autopsy.

District attorney's investigators determined that Nueces County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Adel Shaker hired Lyden in December 2021, according to the affidavit, knowing she was not fully licensed to practice medicine in Texas.

In order to legally practice, she would have needed to obtain an emergency visiting practitioner temporary permit, sponsored by Shaker or another fully licensed physician. No such permit has been issued in Lyden's name, or in Shaker's, on her behalf.

The affidavit also states Shaker observed the original autopsy and agreed with Lyden's cause of death determination.

Lyden no longer is employed by the county.

This is a developing story. Check back with KRIS 6 News for updates.