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Coroner to re-examine suspicious death

Under pressure from national experts and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom said he’s been taking a second look at the 1997 death of a Bremerton-area toddler.

“We always investigate any new evidence that comes into the office,” Sandstrom said. “We’re reviewing the case.”

At least two physicians, contacted by the P-I, believe the child’s death could have been a homicide, rather than an accidental death as indicated in the autopsy report.

Sandstrom said his office began talking with other experts and reviewing the case about a year ago, when the newspaper first questioned the results of that first investigation into the death of Alijah Tate, calling on the opinions of other experts in the field.

Tate was 1 and a half years old when he died.

Emmanuel Lascina, a privately contracted forensic pathologist for Kitsap County, determined in 1997 the boy died after choking and vomiting on mashed potatoes.

His mother’s boyfriend tried to revive him, resulting in a head injury, according to the report.

Kitsap County’s coroner at the time was Ted Zink.

Although Sandstrom was a deputy coroner at the time, the Tate case wasn’t under his purview, he said. Sandstrom first took office in 1999.

“I am kind of acting as a Monday quarterback here,” Sandstrom said.

It is not clear how long it will take Sandstrom to re-examine the evidence surrounding Tate’s death.

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