Still no decision on autopsy photos
By SHARON TUBBS St. Petersburg Times, published June 28, 2000 CLEARWATER -- Pinellas County Circuit Judge Crockett Farnell did not reach a decision Tuesday about whether autopsy photos of Scientologist Lisa McPherson should be made public, saying he needs more time to review documents. In the two-day span leading up to Tuesday's hearing, hundreds of pages of new motions and detailed arguments were added to the lawsuit, filed a week ago by the St. Petersburg Times. The Times sued the office of Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe to force the release of the photos. But the Church of Scientology wants the photos sealed. The church believes its critics would post the photos on the Internet, harming its right to a fair trial in a Tampa wrongful-death lawsuit filed by McPherson's estate. Farnell did not say when he would come to a decision. Lawyers involved in the case said a ruling could occur as soon as today, or Farnell could schedule another hearing. Before the hearing, a church counseling supervisor, a dentist who helped administer medication to McPherson days before her death and a church medical officer and unlicensed doctor joined the church's effort to seal the photos. Bennetta Slaughter, McPherson's boss and friend, also filed a motion this week to keep the pictures private. Meanwhile, Ken Dandar, an attorney representing the McPherson estate, joined the Times, the Tampa Tribune and WFLA-Ch. 8 in asking that the photos be made public. McPherson, 36, died in 1995 while in the care of Church of Scientology staffers in Clearwater.