A jury concluded Tuesday that Lewis County Coroner Terry Wilson's suicide determination in a death 11 years ago was incorrect.
The unprecedented judicial review is the latest twist in the case of Ronda Reynolds, a former state patrol trooper who was found shot dead under an electric blanket in a walk-in closet at her Toledo home on Dec. 16, 1998. Reynolds' mother Barbara Thompson has never agreed with the determination that her daughter committed suicide.
She first filed a civil suit in 2006. Her case was facilitated by a state law passed in 1987 that allows the determination of coroners and medical examiners to be subjected to judicial review.
Thompson cried as the jury's verdict was announced at the Lewis County Law and Justice Center this afternoon, hugging her lawyer Royce Ferguson and friends.
"I stood up and did what I thought was right," she said. "I knew I would get justice at some point."
The jury's verdict stated that the coroner's ruling was innacurate as well as arbitrary and capricious. On a third point, the jury ruled it was unlikely that suicide was the cause of death.
The unanimous verdict comes after a week of testimony and deliberation. Ferguson called a ballistics expert, a forensic pathologist, former Sheriff's Office empoyees and friends of Reynolds to the stand. Wilson's defense attorney John Justice elected not to call any witnesses.
"We proved out point," Thompson said. "We brought our evidence to the jury. It was brave. They took a big step, but it was the truth."
Due to the unprecedented nature of the case, it is not clear what, if any, steps will be taken next. The state law used to spark the judicial review includes no contingency for a jury verdict that rules a determination inaccurate.
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