SLO sheriff hires full-time coroner to replace embattled examiner

September 13, 2017

Joye M. Carter

The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff’s Office has replaced its embattled medical examiner with a full-time forensic pathologist who is moving to the Central Coast.

Over the last couple years, former SLO County medical examiner Gary Walter came under scrutiny for misbehavior and questionable rulings on causes of death. Walter, who served as the county’s contract medical examiner, crashed his car while driving under the influence on the way to perform an autopsy. The incident resulted in the state seeking to revoke Walter’s medical license, yet the sheriff’s office stuck with him for months as it reportedly sought a replacement.

Walter has also been under fire for several questionable autopsy findings.

Earlier this year, Walter ruled that the jail death of Andrew Holland was natural, even though deputies strapped him in a restraint chair for 36 hours before he died. In addition, Walter was named in a wrongful death lawsuit over a man who died in Lemoore police custody. Last month, Walter’s finding that a young Ventura woman died because of an LSD overdose at a music festival was rejected by multiple medical experts.

On Tuesday, the SLO County sheriff’s office announced that for the first time ever the county hired a full-time forensic pathologist. The county’s new top medical examiner is Joye M. Carter, who holds the distinction of being the first African-American chief medical examiner in the history of the United States, according to the sheriff’s office.

Carter, an Air Force veteran, served as chief medical examiner of the District of Columbia and chief medical examiner of Harris County Texas, which includes the city of Houston. Carter also worked as the deputy chief medical examiner of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner Department.

While serving as SLO County’s forensic pathologist, Carter will perform all autopsies, medical inspections and medical reviews required by the sheriff-coroner’s office. Additionally, she will be available during regular business hours and on an on-call basis 24/7 for consultations, visits to suspicious death and homicide scenes and court testimony.

Carter’s first day on the job was Monday. She is currently relocating from the Houston, Texas area to become a full-time resident of San Luis Obispo County.


This doctor had her own problems in DC and Harris County. She only worked as the DC Medical Examiner for 4 years, and the Harris County Medical Director for 6 years.


Moving from Texas to California, I hope she doesn’t into shock when she gets her first paycheck and sees how much California takes out in taxes!


thanks to the public unions and their paid for politicians there will be no problem for her.

George Bailey

This new forensic pathologist, Dr. Joye M. Carter, should be a huge improvement over the outgoing medical examiner. I, for one, had lost confidence in Gary Walter, who vacates the position.

Dr. Joye sure is a looker, too, so I hope she is available for dating and maybe getting a tour of the Central Coast, lol.



Welcome, Dr. Joye M. Carter, to our wonderful County. I hope your relocation and employment is to your liking and that you help our citizens in need with honesty and dignity. You have a very impressive resume, and will certainly be an improvement to local needs. Welcome!


sounds very qualified – and i know we think a lot of our corner of the earth, but to come here after being chief for DC and then for Harris county in Texas? really? don’t people usually move up not down?


I’ve lived in DC and Texas and believe me, a move to the Central Coast is definitely a move “up.” The county seat of Harris County is Houston and I suspect many who live there would gladly accept a move to SLO right about now. There’s more to quality of life than a “bigger car, higher wages, expenses paid, and a car” (with a nod to Roger Miller).




I don’t know kayaknut; but it will be worth it.


but getting rid of worthless public sector people is happening too often and at too high of a cost to the taxpayers, and then they just go on to another position to cause the same problems or retire to increase an already bankrupt pension system.

Jorge Estrada

Welcome to you and your family. I read your professional history to be very appealing.


And how much is it costing the taxpayers to get rid of Gary Walter?


It should cost us NOTHING, he should reimburse the County taxpayers for his incompetence. It was not directly clear that she will be a full time employee vs on call 24/7. I do think this is a positive and the next step is to remove Director Jeff Hamm. Just look around, we have issues with Animal Services ($17 million for a new shelter is crazy), the Health Services (Physical and Mental) at the Sheriff’s Department, the operation of the Mental Health facility on Johnson Ave and only allowing 6 in-house when there is room for 16, the neglect and non-posting of a health issue at Pirates Cove that has been reported for years, just to name a few shortcomings under his leadership. The man in near retirement, inapt at running these divisions of his Department and should be forced to retire. He is a waste of money!