State Medical Examiner Rules Sublett's Death a Suicide; Family Doesn't Agree with Conclusion and Will Challenge It, Lawyer Says

By Dickson, Terry | The Florida Times Union, February 2, 2013 | Go to article overview
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State Medical Examiner Rules Sublett's Death a Suicide; Family Doesn't Agree with Conclusion and Will Challenge It, Lawyer Says


Dickson, Terry, The Florida Times Union


Byline: Terry Dickson

BRUNSWICK | A state medical examiner concluded that Glynn County Commissioner Tom Sublett's Dec. 12 death was a result of suicide.

Glynn County Coroner Jimmy Durden said the Georgia Bureau of Investigation called him Friday to inform him.

Sublett was found floating between a boat and a dock about 6 a.m. Dec. 12 with his hands bound in front of him. He had a gunshot wound to the head. But after conducting an autopsy, GBI medical examiner James Downs said Sublett had drowned. He was last seen late Dec. 11 by a friend he had dropped off at a car after a regular friendly card game on Oak Grove Island north of Brunswick.

Mark Johnson, a lawyer representing Sublett's family, said Downs had informed the family weeks ago that his autopsy report would likely have a finding of suicide. The family does not agree and will go forward with plans to challenge that conclusion, Johnson said.

"I guess we'll likely be moving for a coroner's inquest. We don't know how long that process will take,'' Johnson said.

In the hours after Sublett was found, Glynn County Police Chief Matt Doering said the death was being investigated as a homicide, but the GBI took the lead in the investigation.

In an inquest, the coroner presides over a jury of five appointed people, with the district attorney calling witnesses and presenting evidence. Johnson said he believes it is up to the district attorney to call an inquest, and that might not be possible until the GBI completes its investigation of Sublett's death.

That completion date also remains an open question. Mike McDaniel, special agent in charge of the GBI's Kingsland office, said Friday that "we've got more work to do."

Asked about the availability of the full autopsy report, McDaniel said it is part of the investigative file which is "not releasable" until the case is complete.

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