It has been a year since Dr. Michael Hunter left his post in Panama City as Florida’s District 14 medical examiner. He’d served in that capacity here from 2008 through the spring of 2015 and was called upon several times to testify in some of Jackson County’s most serious criminal trials.
Last March he left to take a job as the medical examiner for the city of San Francisco. He came into that position at a time when the California community had a significant backlog of cases to be processed. With the help of some staffing adjustments he made and some other organizational shifts, he’s worked through most of that backlog now. And almost as soon as he got to California, he started doing something else related to death in his free time.
Although Hunter moved thousands of miles away, local people who subscribe to the REELZ channel have been able to watch him work almost since the time he left. That’s because he has a sideline job as host of “Autopsy: The Last Hours of…..”
On that program, which has one more episode to air from its first American-produced run of 10 shows, Hunter looks into the deaths of some famous people. They're usually cases in which questions remain and rumors swirl in the public consciousness.
The final case of season is about rapper The Notorious B.I.G. It airs next Saturday night at 8 p.m.
Hunter has also looked into the deaths of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix, actress Natalie Wood, Soul Train founder and host Don Cornelius, singers Maurice Gibb and Jim Morrison, comedians Phil Hartman and John Belushi, as well as Rodney King. Some of those episodes can be seen in upcoming spring and summer reruns.
REELZ is on DIRECTV channel 238, Dish Network channel 299, Verizon channel 233, AT&T channel 799/HD1799 and cable systems nationwide. Find REELZ on your local cable or satellite provider at reelz.com/watch.
Hunter may or may not be back for a second season--that decision is still pending. But the medical examiner said he’s interested if the opportunity arises. Autopsy isn’t his first gig in the world of television.
He hosted “The Riddle of the Crucifixion” and has served as a consultant for a number of television shows, including CNN/HLN’s Anderson Cooper 360, The Nancy Grace Show, Larry King Live, CNN Newsroom and Special Report, TruTV (Court TV) programs like Closing Arguments with Nancy Grace, Banfield and Ford: Courtside, and InSession. He’s worked with a number of FOX News Channel programs as well.
Hunter said he enjoyed working with his team in Florida’s District 14 and still counts them as valued friends. He said he only left because the lure of San Francisco’s backlog was too big a challenge to pass up. “The office in Panama City, I loved it there,” Hunter said. “I had a great staff, and they’re really like family to me. I had a great relationship with Bay and the other counties, but I think I was just missing something and part of that was a new challenge. San Francisco offered that, and so it was a professional choice based primarily on the challenging opportunity it presented.”
Hosting Autopsy was an opportunity that only came up after he arrived in California, with a phone call from someone in the television industry that he’d worked with before.
Soon he was spending his evening hours, early mornings before work, and weekends on the show. He said he doesn’t choose the cases he’ll take on and doesn’t really have any specific ones in mind that he’d like to work on if he had the choice.
Hunter said he’s always been generally interested in old cases that other people worked on. In fact, reviewing those has been something of a pastime for him.
On Autopsy, he gets involved fairly late in the process, he says, dealing only with the medical issues involved. He controls the narrative from the medical standpoint only. Researchers work on the subject’s life-background material that goes in the show, he said. “By the time the case comes to me there’s already an outline put together by the production staff. They know by then pretty much where they want to go, and I digest the medical background and offer some insights from that side of the coin. I didn’t really know the backgrounds of any of these cases, but I’ve been learning a lot about some of the entertainers that I grew up with, like Jimi Hendrix and Jim Morrison. Before this, I really didn’t know much beyond the basics.”
He said his segments of the show don’t take that long to film. It’s strenuous while it lasts, he said, but can sometimes be done in a day or two per episode.
He came back to Panama City about six months ago to testify in a murder case that was still pending when he left, and said he’ll not forget his time and the people he cares for here.