A judge has ruled that the New York City medical examiner's office can move forward with publicly releasing the cause and manner of death of Zachery Tims, the late pastor of New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC) in Apopka, Fla., and may do so in as little as two days.
After hearing arguments on Nov. 23 from Ricardo E. Oquendo, Esq., the attorney representing Madeline Tims, the late pastor's mother, and Ave Maria Brennan, Senior Counsel with the City's Administrative Law Department, Justice Cynthia S. Kern decided Monday that city officials can reveal what killed the charismatic preacher.
Tims, 42, was found dead on Aug. 12 in his room at the W. Hotel in New York City. Investigators ruled out foul play and reportedly suspected that drugs may have been involved, sources close to the investigation revealed. The sources reportedly claimed that a glassine envelope with white powder was discovered in Tims' pocket.
Madeline Tims sued the New York medical examiner's office, as well as New York City, on Oct. 6, one day before the New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) was set to issue a press release regarding the cause and manner of Tims' death. Kern allowed the temporary injunction, as Tims' mother argued that making the information known would be a potential embarrassment to his family and the NDCC congregation.
Kern explained in her decision, which was shared with The Christian Post that there was no explicit statute barring the medical examiner from releasing the cause and manner of death of individuals. "This court declares that, upon public inquiry, the OCME may release the cause and manner of death in the cases it handles."
Brennan released a statement Monday evening, saying of Kern's decision: "The Medical Examiner has historically released the cause and manner of death upon public inquiry, and we are gratified that the Court agreed that this important practice complies with the law."
Brennan said during the Nov. 23 hearing that "medical examiners passionately feel that it is important that this information be disclosed to the people of New York" no matter the status of the deceased.
"We don't decide who's important, who's not important; what's newsworthy, what's not newsworthy," she said at the time.
The City's Administrative Law Department also shared with CP that Tims' cause and manner of death will be shared 48 hours after the Kern's has been officially entered.
It was also revealed Monday that Tims' Florida church may be facing difficulties in deciding on the late pastor's successor.
Christian leaders with close ties to New Destiny Christian Center claim that Paula White, senior pastor of Without Walls International Church, had manipulated church administrators into allowing her to take over as leader of the church Tims founded 15 years ago. White has yet to comment on the allegations.