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Coroner Cremated Jordan’s Body Because of Storage

January 6, 1996 GMT

LUMBERTON, N.C. (AP) _ The body of Michael Jordan’s father was cremated because there was nowhere to store it, a South Carolina coroner testified Friday in the trial of a man charged in the death.

The testimony came as attorneys wrangled over photographs of the body and wording of questions. The jury was sent out of the courtroom 10 times before the trial adjourned for the weekend as attorneys debated the law.

Daniel Andre Green, 21, is charged with murder, armed robbery and conspiracy to commit armed robbery in the July 1993 shooting death of James R. Jordan, 57. Jordan’s body was found in a South Carolina swamp Aug. 3, 1993.


The body was cremated before dental and fingerprint records were used to identify it as Jordan’s. Later, the hands and jaws that were removed to aid identification were cremated at the Jordan family’s request, Brown said.

The defense contends the murder investigation was poorly conducted. A primary flaw was cremation of the body, defense attorney Woodberry Bowen said Thursday.

``I ordered it be cremated so the remains could be returned to me at my office,″ Tim Brown, coroner of Marlboro County, S.C., told District Attorney Johnson Britt.

Brown said there was no refrigerated place to store a body in his county. The cremation occurred Aug. 7, 1993, four days after it was discovered.

Before the cremation, both hands and the jaws of the body were removed, Brown said. The jaws were x-rayed for identification by dental work later and the hands were sent to state investigators for fingerprinting. Those parts were cremated Aug. 14, 1993, the day before James Jordan’s funeral.

The body was decomposing around the neck and back of the head and one place was infested with maggots, said Brown, who is a contractor and has held the part-time job of coroner for 12 years.

The body, which was found snagged on a tree limb in Gum Swamp, smelled badly because of the decomposition, Brown said.

He kept the body in a body bag in the rear of his pickup truck until a transport service arrived later that day to take it to a pathologist.

Once the body was identified, Brown said he personally delivered the ashes to a funeral home in Wilmington.

Earlier in the day, attorneys sparred over whether jurors should see photos of Jordan’s body.

``The intent is to use these photos to inflame the jury,″ defense attorney Angus Thompson said.

Jurors had already seen photos of Jordan alive.

Britt said he wanted to present more photos to show that the clothing on the body matched clothing that the elder Jordan wore in the photos taken before his death.

Judge Gregory Weeks ruled the jury could see two of the three pictures Britt wanted to use.

Just before the weekend recess, the lawyers wrangled over autopsy photos. Weeks ruled the jury could see those because they showed detail the other pictures did not.

The last witness of the day was Dr. Joel Sexton, a Newberry, S.C., pathologist who conducted the autopsy. Sexton said Jordan died from a gunshot wound that pierced his aorta, the main blood vessel in the chest.

Prosecutors say the basketball star’s father was shot to death July 23, 1993, in his Lexus as he napped along a highway near Lumberton during a early-morning drive from Wilmington to Charlotte.

Larry Martin Demery, 20, pleaded guilty to murder, robbery and conspiracy charges last April and agreed to testify against his longtime friend.

Green could face the death penalty if convicted.