Learning Center

Your central location for online learning and education surrounding all aspects of tissue donation, tissue banking, research and transplantation.

Jurisdiction and Custody: Who Makes the Decision?

Back to Package

During this presentation, we will discuss various circumstances of death in different death investigation systems/jurisdictions. We will review deaths in police custody, prison/detention facility deaths, and officer-involved deaths. We will discuss custody and jurisdiction of the body when a death investigator, law enforcement, and district attorneys are involved.

Karl Williams, MD

Chief Medical Examiner

Allegheny County

 Dr. Karl E. Williams is a life-long Pittsburgher, graduating as valedictorian from South Hills High School, in 1965, and subsequently being inducted into its Hall of Fame for Medicine/Science. His passions are his family, (son, Michael), music, literature, sailing, France and Armagnac!

 At Oberlin College, his undergraduate years were spent pursuing a major in Biology and a minor in Religion.

Following Oberlin, he attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine (Class of 1974), where he worked as a bench scientist at Mellon Institute and won an essay award from the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

Following graduation with a MD degree, he completed an internship in Washington DC Veteran’s Administration Hospital and Georgetown University Hospital. He then worked four years as an Emergency Room physician in Scranton, before returning to residency programs in Pathology at Allegheny General Hospital under the directorship of Dr. Robert Hartsock, and at Shadyside Hospital, under the directorship Dr. Edwin Fisher.

After completing his training in Pathology, he was employed for two years at the Coroner’s Office of Allegheny County. 

The science of Pathology holds the keys to understanding the most complex diseases and discrepancies of the body. It is also central to resolving Medicolegal issues in Forensic Pathology.

Karl is triple boarded in Anatomic, Clinical and Forensic Pathology, as well as having a Master’s in Public Health, from the Graduate School of Public Health of the University of Pittsburgh, in Occupational/Environmental Medicine.

Before becoming Allegheny County’s first appointed Medical Examiner, he was the Laboratory Director of Ellwood City Hospital, as well as the Medical Director of that hospital’s Occupational Medicine division. He was, additionally, Director of a high-tech start up medical biotech research and lab which performed testing of malignancies for the purpose of evaluating chemotherapy options.  

The Office of the Medical Examiner is one of the rare facilities in the country to have the complete set of Crime Laboratories integrated with its morgue and Death Scene Investigation System.

The collaboration of these two aspects of investigation can be applied in novel issues in Public Health, such the current drug overdose epidemic ravaging the country, as well as to frontier areas such as the use of DNA in the court system.

Some prominent cases that Karl has been involved with during his career include the crash of USAir 427 in 1995, the arrest and conviction of the Ross Township serial rapist, the cyanide poisoning of a local physician by her husband and the Tree of Life Synagogue slayings.

For the past decade one of his principal concerns have been with the on-going drug overdose epidemic. He works with the Pitt School of Pharmacy in creating and maintaining a unique resource Overdose Free PA.


Jurisdiction and Custody: Who Makes the Decision?
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.  |  60 minutes
Select the "View On-Demand Recording" button to begin.  |  60 minutes
Presentation Survey
6 Questions
Certificate of Attendance
1.00 credit  |  Certificate available
1.00 credit  |  Certificate available