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Devoy will keep control of key cases

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GREENFIELD — Hancock County Coroner Crystel Myers has agreed to keep Dan Devoy as a member of her team of deputies – at least, for now.

Myers, 29, of Greenfield, took office Tuesday and has agreed to allow former Coroner Devoy to remain in her service to complete work on several pending cases, including the Dec. 23 homicide.

Devoy and Myers met Monday to exchange the keys to the coroner’s office and go over cases that were expected to carry over to the new year.

Devoy oversaw the office as interim coroner from September to December after former Coroner Tamara Vangundy was removed from office.

Myers, a Democrat, and Devoy, a Republican who ran as an independent in November, have had their differences since Myers defeated Devoy at the polls, but Myers said they are in agreement about how pending cases should be handled.

“He said that he would be more than willing to keep the cases, and that was fine,” Myers said.

Myers, a stay-at-home mother with a degree in mortuary science, is in the process of completing training to become a death investigator.

Meanwhile, her chief deputy coroner, Rudy Nylund, will take the lead on death investigations. Nylund and another of Myers’ deputies, Steven Slinkard, are certified death investigators.

Myers said she didn’t hesitate to keep Devoy on board.

“It’s not a matter of me knowing what I’m doing or not knowing what I’m doing,” she said. “It’s the safety of our community.”

Devoy’s chief concern was what would happen if the homicide case against Colby McKnelly, 26, of Greenfield, went to court, he said last week.

“We can’t second-guess that; that’s got to be taken care of,” he said. “… If it comes down to it, and we go to court, I will be the one who comes back and has to testify on that.”

Devoy said it would lend credibility to the case if he stayed on as a deputy until the case’s conclusion.

“It just looks better,” he said. “It would be better for the case.”

McKnelly has requested a speedy trial, and a trial date has been set for next month.

Myers said she isn’t comfortable taking the stand on behalf of the coroner’s office just yet and said she’d prefer someone with first-hand knowledge of the case to testify.

“I said, ‘I’m gonna be completely honest; … I’m not ready to take a homicide case,” she said. “Of course, I read about it in the paper, and I heard about it throughout town, … but I wasn’t there.”

Myers also asked Devoy to be on hand should the coroner be called to testify in the criminal case against Josh Stryzinski.

Stryzinski, 19, of Greenfield, was charged with neglect resulting in death, a Class A felony, after he left his 4-month-old baby in a sweltering car in July. The case is pending.

Myers said it’s too early to say whether Devoy will stay involved with the office after those cases have concluded.

“I think Dan’s gonna be a great asset to the team even if he’s not a deputy,” she said. “We all have the same goal in mind at the end of the day.”

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