Guam's medical examiner planning his retirement - KUAM.com-KUAM News: On Air. Online. On Demand.

Guam's medical examiner planning his retirement

Posted: Updated:

It's not a job for the squeamish. But, it's an important job to ensuring the justice system works. After serving over two decades as Guam's chief medical examiner, Dr. Aurelio Espinola is making plans to retire. Who could take his place? Recruitment starts now.

23 years as Guam's doctor for the dead, Dr. Espinola's contract nears end in January of 2019. As chief medical examiner, his job is to perform autopsies, especially for those who passed under unusual or suspicious circumstances. From there, he'll determine the cause and manner of death. The job often requires he work with police, investigators, witnesses, and the victims' families.

When foul play is involved, his findings could result in an arrest and trial. What he says in court in front of a jury often determining a defendant's fate. His job isn't only on Guam, but he also serves as medical examiner for the CNMI and Palau, and also has some cases in Texas.

"This is a very important job anywhere," described the physician, "because if you don't have medical examiner, you can guess what will happen - the guilty will go free. We are the ones who look, who testify in court, if he's guilty or not."

But, whoever is his successor has big shoes to fill...and few are qualified to apply. "It's hard,' Espinola admitted. "It's hard to find because there are very few medical examiners in the whole world. There are very few training programs."

Doctors for the dead require much more training than those with live patients, which could be why so few pursue the profession. "If you go to surgery, you only need four years," he quantified. "If you go to forensics, at least nine years."

Interestingly enough, Dr. Espinola first started his career delivering babies - as an OB/GYN. He explains why he changed paths, saying, "That's ambition."

His secret to success in the field? He shared, "You don't use your heart."

Once retired, the 77-year-old plans to move back home to the Philippines, and surprisingly, work in a completely different field: he tells KUAM he'll manage a beauty parlor in Quezon City.

He hopes that someone watching will want to take on his job, explaining that the work load is manageable, and cases in Guam less violent than bigger jurisdictions. "There are few cases here and the cases are not difficult," he said.

In his career, he estimates he's examined more than 50,000 dead bodies.

While it's a thankless job, he doesn't seem to care. "I like this job. I'm not looking for a reward," he said in his usual humble fashion.

  • NEWS HEADLINESMore>>

  • Man hit by car in Mangilao dies

    Man hit by car in Mangilao dies

    An 81-year-old man hit by a car in Mangilao Wednesday night has died. Mangilao mayor Al Ungacta has identified the victim as Jesus Francisco, who is also a resident of the village. It happened around 7pm along route 10 near the 24-Hour Laundry. Police say the man was crossing from the median towards the inner lane when he was struck by the car. First responders rushed him to Naval Hospital where he later died. No arrests have been made at this time. GPD's highway patrol is investig...More >>
    An 81-year-old man hit by a car in Mangilao Wednesday night has died. Mangilao mayor Al Ungacta has identified the victim as Jesus Francisco, who is also a resident of the village. It happened around 7pm along route 10 near the 24-Hour Laundry. Police say the man was crossing from the median towards the inner lane when he was struck by the car. First responders rushed him to Naval Hospital where he later died. No arrests have been made at this time. GPD's highway patrol is investig...More >>
  • House Natural Resources Committee clears amendments

    House Natural Resources Committee clears amendments

    A provision to allow compact migrants in Guam and other states and territories to participate in federally-funded community service programs has cleared the House Natural Resources Committee. The amendments by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo were part of her "Compact Impact Relief Act" that was reintroduced last week.  Bordallo says including FAS migrants in programs such as AmeriCorps and the Youth Conservation Corps will provide them with valuable job skills while h...More >>
    A provision to allow compact migrants in Guam and other states and territories to participate in federally-funded community service programs has cleared the House Natural Resources Committee. The amendments by Congresswoman Madeleine Bordallo were part of her "Compact Impact Relief Act" that was reintroduced last week.  Bordallo says including FAS migrants in programs such as AmeriCorps and the Youth Conservation Corps will provide them with valuable job skills while h...More >>
  • Fire at Piti middle school forces temporary evacuation

    Fire at Piti middle school forces temporary evacuation

    A fire at a local middle school in Piti forced students and staff to briefly evacuate the campus midday today. Guam Fire Department spokesperson Kevin Reilly says the fire was called in at Jose Rios Middle School around 11:55pm. Firefighters were able to get it under control about ten minutes later. It was contained to the boy's restroom in the 8th grade wing. The area was closed off due to minor smoke damage. No injuries have been reported. DOE officials confirm the all clear has si...More >>
    A fire at a local middle school in Piti forced students and staff to briefly evacuate the campus midday today. Guam Fire Department spokesperson Kevin Reilly says the fire was called in at Jose Rios Middle School around 11:55pm. Firefighters were able to get it under control about ten minutes later. It was contained to the boy's restroom in the 8th grade wing. The area was closed off due to minor smoke damage. No injuries have been reported. DOE officials confirm the all clear has si...More >>
Powered by Frankly