Images of Kitsap County
Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Date: May 3 2006
Contact: Greg Sandstrom
Phone: (360) 337-7077
No. 06-
35

Coroner's Office Stands by Decision in Shannon Case

PORT ORCHARD, WA—The Kitsap County Coroner’s Office issued a statement today detailing its investigation into the death of Kristina Shannon. Shannon, a 29-year-old resident at Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton, died at Harrison Hospital on July 2, 2005. The office investigated the death, while the autopsy was performed by Forensic Pathologist Dr. Emmanuel Q. Lacsina.

According to Greg Sandstrom, Coroner, Dr. Lacsina found no evident cause of death as a result of the initial autopsy. Therefore, the Coroner’s Office pended the cause of death until further studies could be done, including sending blood to the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory in Seattle. The results of the blood test showed a high level of chlorpheniramine, an over-the-counter antihistamine, in Shannon’s system. With no other indicators as to the cause of death, Dr. Lacsina concluded the death should be ruled as acute drug intoxication due to chlorpheniramine.

In investigating deaths, the Coroner’s Office determines both the cause and manner of death when evidence presents itself. The cause of death is the disease or injury responsible for the lethal sequence of events. In the Shannon case, based on the only evidence that presented itself, the blood test, a competent cause of death was determined.

On the other hand, manner of death explains how the cause of death arose. Again, the Coroner’s Office must determine manner of death when evidence presents itself. If there are no evident indicators as to the manner of death, the manner of death is ruled unknown. If additional information is obtained that contradicts the initial findings, the office will consider changing either the cause or manner of death ruling. However, in the Shannon case, there was no evident indicators as to the manner of death; therefore, the death was ruled unknown.

“Our office has nothing to gain or lose in determining the cause and manner of death in this or any case,” said Greg Sandstrom, Coroner. “Rather, our job is to speak for those who can no longer speak for themselves by conducting a thorough, impartial death investigation. In this particular case, we sought the opinion of several respected experts in the area of drug intoxication, including toxicologists at the Washington State Toxicology Laboratory.”

The State Attorney General’s Office has repeatedly accused the Coroner’s Office of hindering their investigation by not releasing the autopsy report to a private investigation company, Emphasis Technography. However, according to Washington State law, the Coroner’s Office can only release the report to law enforcement, the health department, the doctor or the family. In this case, the Coroner offered to release the report to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), which would comply with the law. DSHS could then pass the information on to whomever they chose. However, the Attorney General’s office wanted the information sent directly to the investigating firm.

Further, the Attorney General’s Office also wanted the blood to be sent directly to the investigating firm, which violates state and local toxicology policy. According to proper state and local protocol and at the request of the family, blood can only be sent from one laboratory to another. Emphasis Technography was an investigation firm, not a lab. Again, the Coroner offered to have the laboratory send the blood to another lab of their choosing, but the Attorney General’s Office declined to provide the name of an appropriate lab.

“We have reviewed the report sent to us from the investigating firm with Dr. Lacsina. Based on the information currently available, we believe the original death determination was correct—that Kristina died of acute drug intoxication in an unknown manner.”
 


To contact the Kitsap County Public Information Office, 
call PJ Callahan at 360-337-4481 or email: pjramos@co.kitsap.wa.us

Last Updated: May 27, 2014