A Tarrant County judge declined Tuesday to stop the autopsies of two men killed in a traffic collision late Sunday night. The men’s families had objected, saying autopsies violated their Muslim faith.

Abdel Rahman Joudeh, 23, of Arlington and Mohammad Khan, 18, of Grand Prairie were killed when their car veered into the path of a tractor-trailer on Interstate 20 near the Cooper Street exit in Arlington just before midnight.

Relatives sought a temporary restraining order against Tarrant County Medical Examiner Nizam Peerwani, arguing that the men were devout Muslims and that cutting open their bodies would violate their religion’s principles against embalming or removal of tissues, court documents state.

State District Judge Bob McGrath denied their request after Peerwani and the Tarrant County district attorney’s office argued that state law mandates autopsies in such cases.

“The medical examiner is required by law to do an investigation so they can reach, beyond a reasonable doubt, the manner and cause of death,” Assistant District Attorney Ann Diamond said. “Those are technical words. You can’t say just say ‘car crash'” as the cause of death.

Donald Fulton, the attorney representing Khan’s father and Joudeh’s uncle, said the family was disappointed with the judge’s ruling, especially since there wasn’t any evidence that Joudeh, who was driving, was impaired.

Police said Joudeh, unaware of the truck, apparently turned into the truck’s lane to exit the highway. The truck pushed the car across the outside median and caused it to flip.

“They didn’t argue that they needed” the autopsy, Fulton said. “They said the statute required it.” (MORE)


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