On a street in the Alamo Heights section of Fort Worth, Alfredo Olivares was shot six times with a 9mm handgun.
Two of the rounds hit his body.
But only one of them, a bullet that entered his left lower back, was noted in an autopsy report prepared by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office.
It was not until about three months later when Olivares’ embalmed body was pulled in a casket from the ground that a second gunshot wound to the left side of his abdomen was properly documented by another physician during a second postmortem examination.
That wound was misidentified as a surgical stab wound by Dr. Marc Krouse, testified the office’s current chief, Dr. Kendall Crowns, on Tuesday in 396th District Court in Tarrant County. The jury is hearing evidence at trial in the murder indictment of Perter Cardona, who is accused of killing Olivares on Sept. 19, 2020. A defense attorney representing Cardona told jurors in an opening statement that the killing was justified by self-defense.
Krouse’s blunders in the Olivares case led to the expiration without renewal of his Tarrant County employment contract. Beyond autopsies, Krouse held administrative duties as the office’s No. 2 physician.
Krouse’s work has become a concern in homicide prosecutions since his departure in April 2021 from the medical examiner’s office.
The Dallas County District Attorney’s Office was appointed to review some of Krouse’s cases.
In an audit, 41 of Krouse’s autopsies were examined, and about 50 mistakes were found in 27 of them. In most cases, the mistakes did not change the assignment of the cause or the manner of death.
Crowns reviewed and agreed with the conclusions in a second autopsy report prepared by his predecessor, Dr. Nizam Peerwani.
During direct examination, Assistant Criminal District Attorney Lucas Allan at one point addressed Crowns using the name of the embattled physician who handled the first autopsy.
“Dr. Krouse,” Allan began a question to Crowns.
“It’s Crowns,” Crowns said. “Let’s not make that mistake.”
Allan is prosecuting the case with Assistant Criminal District Attorney Kyle Russo.
Crowns said the wound that Krouse misidentified was survivable. It passed through subcutaneous tissue.
Both bullets remained inside Olivares’ body.
When Krouse’s finalized report was reviewed about a month after the first autopsy, several inconsistencies were discovered, including that images from the hospital showed two bullets in the body. The second had not been removed, and Krouse reported the wound as a “surgical stab,” although hospital and police records reported it as a gunshot wound. Krouse did not look at the radiology report, which would have shown both bullets, according to a document prepared by the district attorney’s office.
At least four other discrepancies in the autopsy were found, including that Krouse said no personal belongings were found on Olivares, although photos show he had a leg monitor. Krouse also indicated that Olivares was clothed, but the police had taken all of his clothes.
Earlier on Tuesday, defense lawyer Michael Schneider in an opening statement told jurors that at the time he was shot to death outside a house in the 4100 block of Valentine Street, Olivares was under indictment on aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The indictment was in connection with a case in which authorities alleged Olivares shot a person at his house about a year before he was killed there.
Schneider represents Cardona with defense lawyer Emily Lachance.
On Tuesday, prosecutors presented a series of witnesses who were inside or outside the house on Valentine Street where Olivares lived with relatives and where there was a party in the hours before the homicide. A group of friends was drinking alcohol and marijuana was present.
The witnesses testified that the affair was jubilant and they saw no indication of aggression between Cardona and Olivares.
Cardona, who is 25, was the last person who did not live at the Valentine Street house to remain from the party, and he walked with Olivares to the front of the house just before daybreak.
After the shooting, Cardona left in his pickup truck and sped down the street, prosecutors said.
Olivares stumbled inside and found Celia Martinez, his mother.
“Mom, mom, mom, I’ve been shot,” Martinez recalled her son’s request for help from the witness stand.
Olivares, who was 19, was taken in an ambulance to Harris Methodist Hospital and died in an operating room.
Jurors watched surveillance camera video that showed the rear of the house and the people at the party. Witnesses testified that there was no indication of a disturbance.
Another camera at the front of the house did not record the shooting because it was activated by motion and Cardona and Olivares had moved beyond the camera at the time when the shots were fired.
The state’s case is expected to continue on Wednesday morning with the testimony of Fort Worth police detectives and a crime scene officer. Judge George Gallagher is presiding at the trial. Cardona, who is on bond and not in custody, could be sentenced to between five and 99 years in prison if he is found guilty.