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The family of Debbie Meadows says they have yet to get an explanation over her cause of death change from blunt force trauma to melanoma following a fatal crash in 2014. (Courtesy: Family photo)

A repeat drunk driver may get off easy because a victim's death certificate was changed

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Debbie Meadows was in a car crash in Franklin County, Ohio, in 2014. She never regained consciousness and died 11 days later. But the legal case against the driver that allegedly hit her has dragged on for years.

Last month, a new death certificate arrived claiming Meadows' cause of death was melanoma. And now that means the case against Timothy Castle, the driver charged with her death, got a lot more complicated, our partner at WSYX reports. His charges may be reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. 

Gashes on your head do not appear from melanoma.
Dawn Call, Meadows' daughter-in-law

The new death certificate came after pathology expert Dr. J. Scott Somerset abruptly left the county coroner's office last year for unknown reasons. New coroner Anahi Ortiz signed off on the new certificate claiming melanoma, not blunt force trauma, killed Meadows. She declined comment. 

Our hands end up being tied. We now have different testimony than when we had whent eh case was indicted by the grand jury.
Ron O'Brien

Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien said this complicates the case against Castle, who was originally charged with felony aggravated vehicular homicide. He said issuing a new death certificate was "very, very rare." 

Castle pleaded guilty to drunk driving in 2011. 

The family of Debbie Meadows says they have yet to get an explanation over her cause of death change from blunt force trauma to melanoma following a fatal crash in 2014. (Courtesy: Family photo)
The family of Debbie Meadows says they have yet to get an explanation over her cause of death change from blunt force trauma to melanoma following a fatal crash in 2014. (Courtesy: Family photo)

Former county coroner Dr. Jan Gorniak said she believed the crash, not cancer, killed Meadows (pictured above, second from right). Meadows' family said she had "plenty of time left." 

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