News6 Investigates


Some of Lyden's 30 autopsies at ME's office include criminal cases

destiny cortinas.png
Posted at 3:37 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 16:38:48-05

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — KRIS 6 News has confirmed that Sandra Lyden performed 30 autopsies during her employment as Nueces County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner, including several which could result, or have resulted, in arrests and/or criminal charges.

Because Lyden did those autopsies without "a temporary Texas license which she claimed to have received," according to a Nueces County Commissioners Court statement issued Jan. 26, any criminal cases connected to those procedures could be at risk.

"I can only say that any autopsy could potentially be compromised," said Nueces County District Attorney Mark A. Gonzalez on Friday.

Lyden was hired on a probationary basis Dec. 6, 2021, and was fired Jan. 14.

The autopsies she performed include procedures on:

This is cause for concern for at least one Nueces County commissioner.

"For me, this goes back to credibility, right?" said Pct. 3 commissioner John Marez. "When you go to court, you need to be credible one way or the other to be able to exonerate or to be able to convict."

Marez said he is unsure whether Lyden misrepresented herself to the county or not when she was hired for the job, but these are some of the questions he hopes can be addressed at Wednesday's county commissioners meeting.

"This is a concern," he said. "I don't want anyone to think, for one second, that this is something that the commissioner's court wants to sweep under the rug or (is) trying to try to put away. No, this is a concern that's dealing with lies and . . . dealing with families that have been victims and, and potentially become victims again by not getting the right, accurate information provided about their family members."

Cortinas died after her mother reportedly drove through a traffic arm at a high speed at Bay Area Hospital in December, crashing into a wall.

Cortinas was hurt in the crash and died after an emergency caesarian section was performed to save her unborn child.

Corpus Christi Police Department Public Information Officer Gena Peña said on Dec. 29 that Cortinas' mother was expected to be arrested on charges of intoxication manslaughter and two counts of injury to a child because of the risk posed to the fetus and a boy in the backseat of the car.

Saldivar was discovered in her home in Beeville in early January. After investigating the scene, Saldivar's son Joe Gabriel Perez was arrested on pending murder charges.

Several county commissioners indicated to KRIS 6 News on Jan. 26 that chief medical examiner Dr. Adel Shaker's status also is in question, but Shaker's attorney Chris Gale said Thursday that Shaker currently is operating at the ME's office as usual.

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