Maine AG will add Appalachian Trail hiker’s case to review of chief medical examiner

Courtesy of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Courtesy of Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife
Jeffrey Aylward, 63, of Plymouth, Massachusetts
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The Maine attorney general’s office said it will review a contested finding that alcoholism contributed to the death of an Appalachian Trail hiker as part of a complaint by a lawmaker who said that autopsy was “very disturbing.”
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AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine attorney general’s office said Monday it will review a contested finding that alcoholism contributed to the death of an Appalachian Trail hiker as part of a complaint filed in March by a lawmaker who said that autopsy was “very disturbing.”

It’s unclear if Dr. Mark Flomenbaum, the medical examiner, will face disciplinary action as a result of the complaint, which was originally made in March by Rep. Jeff Evangelos, I-Friendship. The office of Attorney General Aaron Frey, a Democrat who oversees Flomenbaum, said it expects the review of that complaint to conclude “in the near future.”

Evangelos filed that complaint after a judge declared a February mistrial in the case of a Windham man accused of killing his wife because Flomenbaum changed his description of the trajectory of the fatal shotgun pellets. A second trial in that case began this week.

The complaint also cited a 2016 letter from a Connecticut prosecutor to Gov. Janet Mills when she served as attorney general alerting her to testimony that Flomenbaum gave as a defense witness in a child manslaughter case in that state that was deemed “not credible” by a judge.

Evangelos added the case of Massachusetts hiker Jeff Aylward to his complaint in a Monday letter after the Bangor Daily News published an article on Aylward’s autopsy by Flomenbaum’s office. Aylward, a 63-year-old diabetic, was found dead in his tent near Rangeley in August nearly two weeks after sending his final text message to family members.

Flomenbaum’s office ruled that Aylward died of a heart condition spurred by diabetes while citing “acute and chronic alcoholism” as a contributing cause, basing that finding on the levels of two types of alcohol found in blood taken from his chest cavity.

However, no alcohol was found in Aylward’s tent. Two experts who reviewed the findings said the alcohol was produced by the decay of Aylward’s body after death. His widow said he had not drunk in 15 years, and she has lobbied Flomenbaum’s office to remove the alcoholism finding.

In a Monday email to Frey, Evangelos said the article contained “very disturbing information” and asked Frey to add it to the March complaint. Frey spokesman Marc Malon said late Monday that the office plans to “address it along with the outside complaint” submitted in March.

“We understand the value of having this review completed, and expect to conclude our process in the near future,” Malon said.



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