Tuesday, January 9, 2001
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Posted on: Tuesday, January 9, 2001

Mayor shakes up coroner's office

By Curtis Lum
Advertiser Staff Writer

Dr. Alvin Omori, the city’s longtime chief medical examiner, is out of his job as head of the coroner’s office.

Mayor Jeremy Harris did not renominate Omori for the job. City spokeswoman Carol Costa last night would not say why Omori was not reappointed.

"This is the kind of normal changes that come when the new term starts," Costa said. She also denied rumors that Omori was let go because he did not campaign for Harris in his re-election bid last year.

"The medical examiners are never asked to do any campaign work. They never have been, and they never will be," she said.

Harris has tapped first deputy medical examiner Kanthi Von Guenthner to replace Omori. Her appointment, like most of Harris’ other Cabinet appointments, is subject to City Council approval.

Von Guenthner has been with the medical examiner’s office for 16 1/2 years and has served as first deputy since 1990. The native of Sri Lanka received her pathology training at the University of Hawaii and is board certified in anatomical, clinical and forensic pathology.

Von Guenthner, 47, would not comment on why the mayor chose her over Omori. But she believes she is qualified for the tough job as chief medical examiner.

"I have done very high-profile cases. I have been involved in the Dana Ireland (murder trials) and the Xerox (Byran Uyesugi) trial so I feel very confident," Von Guenthner said.

Omori served as chief medical examiner since January 1985 when he was promoted from his deputy position by then-Mayor Frank Fasi. Omori is a graduate of the University of Hawaii medical school.

During his 15-year tenure, Omori led many high-profile cases, as well as the growth of the office.

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