Family seeks to change 'suicide' determination on woman's death certificate | News

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Family seeks to change 'suicide' determination on woman's death certificate

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. -- The family of a St. Johns County woman is asking the local Medical Examiner to change the manner of death on her death certificate from "suicide" to "death by other."

As First Coast News reported
in August, 24-year-old Michelle O'Connell was found dead in September 2010 from a gunshot wound from her boyfriend's gun. The handgun was the service revolver of  St. Johns County Sheriff's Deputy Jeremy Banks.

And although her death was initially ruled a suicide, the case has been shrouded in controversy ever since.

A crime scene analyst hired by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement concluded many aspects of Michelle's death were "suspicious." Among other things, he questioned why the gun at the bloody scene didn't have any blood on it. It didn't have any of  Deputy Banks' DNA or fingerprints on it either, even though though he'd worn the gun to work that day.

St. Johns County Medical Examiner Dr. Fredrick Hobin made the initial ruling on Michelle's death, but changed his mind after FDLE presented him with additional evidence. As he told First Coast News, "I became convinced it was probably a homicide."

Now, the family of Michelle O'Connell is asking Hobin to change her death certificate to reflect that. In a letter to Hobin obtained by First Coast News, Michelle's sister Jennifer Crites asks that he change the Manner of Death to "Shot by Other" -- for the sake of a 6-year-old child.

"My main reason is more for her daughter. We know it wasn't suicide. I don't' want her child to look at that and see those awful words on a certificate that investigators can prove otherwise."


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