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Autopsy huckster without Kansas medical credentials guilty of six offenses

By: - November 5, 2021 2:35 pm
Shawn Parcells, a Kansan who assisted in the 2014 autopsy of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., was found guilty of six crimes related to performing autopsies in Kansas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Shawn Parcells, a Kansan who assisted in the 2014 autopsy of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, was found guilty of six crimes related to performing autopsies in Kansas. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

TOPEKA — The autopsy huckster who posed as an expert to examine the body of Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, has been found guilty of three counts of felony theft and three misdemeanor counts of criminal desecration in Kansas.

Shawn Parcells, who has lived in Topeka and Leawood, was convicted by a Wabaunsee County jury of illegally obtaining money from the county to perform autopsies in three cases. He also was deemed guilty of violating state law by performing autopsies without a pathologist present. The violations of state law occurred in 2014 and 2015.

Sentencing for Parcells, 42, was scheduled for Jan. 10. The case was prosecuted by the attorney general’s fraud and abuse litigation division and the Wabaunsee County attorney.

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In 2014, Parcells assisted with an autopsy of Brown and presented findings during a news conference at Greater St. Marks Family Church in Ferguson, Missouri. Brown had been shot and killed by a Ferguson police officer Aug. 9, 2014, in the St. Louis suburb.

Brown, 18, was not armed. The shooting ignited violent and peaceful protests. A St. Louis County grand jury, a county prosecutor and the U.S. Department of Justice declined to charge the police officer with criminal or civil rights offenses.

Parcells provided autopsy services under an assortment of his companies for coroner’s offices in Missouri and Kansas, and solicited his services to families online. He came under scrutiny after exaggerating medical credentials.

In addition to the criminal case, the state of Kansas filed a civil complaint in Shawnee County District Court to seek restitution for alleged violations of the Kansas False Claims Act and the Kansas Consumer Protection Act. The court banned Parcells from performing autopsies until resolution of the civil litigation.

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Tim Carpenter
Tim Carpenter

Tim Carpenter has reported on Kansas for 35 years. He covered the Capitol for 16 years at the Topeka Capital-Journal and previously worked for the Lawrence Journal-World and United Press International. He has been recognized for investigative reporting on Kansas government and politics. He won the Kansas Press Association's Victor Murdock Award six times. The William Allen White Foundation honored him four times with its Burton Marvin News Enterprise Award. The Kansas City Press Club twice presented him its Journalist of the Year Award and more recently its Lifetime Achievement Award. He earned an agriculture degree at Kansas State University and grew up on a small dairy and beef cattle farm in Missouri. He is an amateur woodworker and drives Studebaker cars.

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