The New Mexico Court of Appeals recently held in State v. Gonzales that the State can call a forensic pathologist as a medical expert to testify about circumstances of death even if that expert took no part in the autopsy performed on the victim. This is true even if the autopsy is ruled inadmissible and the expert relies on the autopsy to reach his or her conclusions regarding the cause of death.
State v. Gonzales involved an interlocutory appeal from a district court. An interlocutory appeal is one where the appeal is ruled on before the trial ends. The Defendant was charged with second-degree murder.
A forensic pathology fellow at the Office of Medical Investigator (OMI) performed the autopsy on the victim, but by the time of the trial had moved to Washington. The prosecution decided to avoid expenses and logistical difficulties by electing not to bring him back to New Mexico to testify at Defendant's trial.