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NEWS STORIES

Traci England Pleads Not Guilty Submitted: 04/23/2012
Story By Lex Gray

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RHINELANDER - The former Forest and Oneida County medical examiner accused of mishandling human remains pleaded not guilty in court today.

Traci England's attorney Joel Hirschhorn requested a jury trial, but both he and district attorney Michael Bloom say it's still possible they could reach a pre-trial agreement.

Police arrested England in early January after she was accused of taking a piece of spine from a cadaver.

England claims she was taking the spine to train her dog to find human remains.

If the case does go to trial, both attorneys say they think she'll get a fair trial even though there's been a lot of media coverage.

"I don't believe, at least based on what I'm aware of, that the media coverage has been inflammatory above and beyond just the aspects of the case that are inescapable given the subject matter of the allegations," says Oneida County district attorney Michael Bloom.

Hirschhorn says he has faith the jury will treat England fairly if they hear the full story.

"Although there are many people that don't exactly understand what happened, when they're told the story they stop and say - "Ah. Yeah, I can understand." I mean, you don't train a dog to sniff out marijuana without giving that dog marijuana to sniff. How do you train a cadaver dog?" Hirschorn said.

Both attorneys also say if the case does go to trial, arguments would likely focus on why England took the spine, rather than if she took it.

"My anticipation, if the case goes to trial, is it wouldn't be a "Whodunnit." There wouldn't be a claim that Ms. England did not, in fact, engage in the conduct," Bloom said. "My belief, if the case goes to trial, is that the defense would be based on how the law applies to that conduct rather than whether or not the conduct occurred."

"This case is over the "why." And the why was for a perfectly real, legitimate, honest purpose - to train this dog to assist this community in law enforcement," Hirschhorn said. "Now, whether that crosses the line, getting there in some way, is for the prosecutor to prove."

England is due back in court June 19th for a pre-trial conference.

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