Hey, Ho! Let's Go!

The Week That Was and the Next 48

We began this week with a tribute in honor of Robert’s 35th birthday, using one of his favorite songs.  The week’s posts were intended to look back on his life and paint a picture for those not fortunate enough to have known him.

Our schedule was interrupted somewhat by Paul Duggan’s Washington Post series.  Did he plan for those stories to drop on Robert’s birthday, or did it just happen that way?  He didn’t indicate, but it’s sometimes funny how things work.

Duggan’s work set off a shock wave for those who follow this case.  His piece was picked up by the WSJ Law Blog (twice), Gawker, Queerty, Above The Law and a host of smaller but still important outlets.  Quite a bit of traffic was driven here; we’ve seen many of them in the comments sections.  New readers were greeted by one undeniable fact: there is a passionate community of smart and motivated people here who are the backbone of this site’s readership.

We hope these new readers, like all of us, are also in for the long haul.  We’re 48 weeks away from the day Judge Weisberg reaches for his gavel. Until then, Duggan and the others gave us plenty to chew on; there still remain aspects of the legal documents we’ve only begun to trawl through.  The May 22 hearing transcript comes in a couple weeks; anniversaries on the calender, some leads we need to chase and status hearings in the out months to report on.

Maintaining this project will continue to be a challenge but we’re rarely at a loss for good ideas.  Posting frequency may slow but new ideas will always percolate, many coming from regular readers:  Themis had one this week: using her legal experience to run interference on the recruiting of our own forensic experts.  She also offered an assist on FOIA requests earlier.  One of many great ideas from what’s turned out to be a great community.

Added pages on theories, open discussions and photo tours of the case’s important locations are planned.  We’ll stick to our knitting and do our level best to keep the content fresh, pertinent and engaging.   Come Monday it’s back to work, staring into the abyss and chasing monsters, but honoring Robert’s memory will always be paramount.

Which brings us back to that song.  “What a Wonderful World” was written “..as an antidote for the increasingly racially and politically charged climate in the U.S. of everyday life (in 1968).  The song also has a hopeful, optimistic tone with regard to the future…and having much to look forward to.”

Into the studio went the 68 year-old Louis Armstrong, considered by some as  “…perhaps the most important American musician of the 20th century.”  It sold modestly in the States but became the UK’s biggest selling single of 1968.  It was his final song to hit the charts.  Covered dozens of times over the years by everyone from Diana Ross to Dr. John, none could hold a candle to Armstrong’s original.  Until perhaps the 2002 posthumous release by another American recording pioneer.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rzKibZVAuR0]

And finally, no Triple Crown day would be complete without hearing from our in-house handicapper; today’s wmrw.com hunch play in the 141st running of the Belmont Stakes is Charitable Man.

-Joey, Dee Dee, Tommy and Johnny

22 comments for “Hey, Ho! Let's Go!

  1. Themis
    06/08/2009 at 8:37 PM

    Anyone out there have expertise in the following or know someone who does: anesthesiology, neuropharmacology, pharmacology, forensic psychology or psychiatry, forensic pathology, acoustics, mortuary science, forensic biology, or forensic chemistry?

    Also, I recently read about a study that gave participants materials and put them through some type of scenario and then asked one group to respond as truthfully as they could in an interview and the other to respond falsely. Does anyone recall this study and differences between the two groups?

  2. Bea
    06/08/2009 at 8:57 PM

    I know a few psychiatrists (including one with significant neuropharmacology knowledge), one pharmacist and (barely) an anesthesiologist – but really, without the actual documents/reports there’s not much to be done. My sense is that we won’t get this material until it’s introduced. There is one study I’ve seen on the topic you mention if it is the one testing neurocircuitry. It’s at http://www.apa.org/releases/deception_article.pdf. There are others which deal less with neural pathways and more with social conditioning, but I’m not sure where you’re going with this.

  3. Themis
    06/08/2009 at 9:21 PM

    Although Robert was stabbed three times (producing precise, not frenzied wounds), he had no defensive wounds. Thus the assumption that he was already dead when he was stabbed or was under the influence of a paralytic. Most people have speculated that he may have been injected with ketamine. However, the WaPo article mentioned that some blood tests for PCP will also pick up ketamine. Without knowing the test ordered in this case, that’s a dead end. However, it did get me thinking, and I came across some articles in my cursory research suggesting that up to 23% of persons administered ketamine will not achieve paralysis. Also, the onset for anesthetic doses takes from two to several minutes. An anesthesiologist, nurse anesthesist, pharmacologist, or the like (including an experienced street user) could clear these issues up easily.

    As for the forensic chemist/biologist, I was wondering about the effect of dilution vs. contamination on DNA testing of blood.

    Regarding the drugs that some have theorized might have produced a frenzied attack, I can’t help but wonder what drug could have produced such an attack and worn off so soon that the person would appear normal, if not cool, to the first responders. Granted, I have little to no experience with date rape drugs or the like. My clients tend to be your average crack or meth addict who has long term dependence. Perhaps a psychiatrist or neuropharmacologist, or pharmacologist (or again an experienced street user) could clear that up as well.

    As for the research study, I read about it in the context of false confessions. Apparently, the objective indicia observed regarding amount of detail, inclusion of meaningless detail, etc., was statistically more predictive than the “gut” instint of seasoned detectives. It would be interesting to compare the indicia of falsehood identified in the study to the known confessions.

    • CDinDC
      06/08/2009 at 9:46 PM

      Themis says: “Regarding the drugs that some have theorized might have produced a frenzied attack, I can’t help but wonder what drug could have produced such an attack and worn off so soon that the person would appear normal, if not cool, to the first responders. ”

      I’ve come to believe the defendants were not on drugs. Only Robert was subjected to drug dosing.

      Themis also says: “Thus the assumption that he was already dead when he was stabbed or was under the influence of a paralytic.”

      He couldn’t have been dead when stabbed…..he digested his own blood. Digestion wouldn’t occur after death.

      • Themis
        06/08/2009 at 10:01 PM

        Though I am not certain, I believe “digested his own blood” is a subjective medical conclusion rather than a simple observation. Forensic pathogists disagree all the time.

        • CDinDC
          06/08/2009 at 10:35 PM

          Form the notes regarding the autopsy in the Affadavit:

          “Notably, blood had filled Mr. Wone’s intestine a distance of two feet down his duodenum (where the stomach attaches to the intestine). The finding indicates that Mr. Wone was alive for a considerable period of time after he was stabbed, as his digestive system continued to operate, forcing blood into his intestine (in other words, he was digesting his own blood.) Dr. Golinosky concluded that mr. Wone was alive for a considerable period of time after the stab wounds were inflicted….”

          According to the Medical Examiner, he was alive when stabbed.

          • WH
            06/09/2009 at 8:08 AM

            I am a physician, but not in any of the specialties related to these questions. However, I can comment on a couple things. The movement of blood from the stomach through the duodenum for two feet would not necessarily require him to live for a “long time” after being stabbed–particularly if some drugs he was given may have relaxed his pyloric sphincter and allowed blood to flow into his duodenum. Then it would take only gravity, and Robert was likely moved around enough after his death (to the shower, or outdoors, or wherever one imagines) that his torso would have been held in a vertical position which would promote flow of blood into the duodenum. Blood mixed with stomach acid/bile would not clot as quickly, promoting this movement further. So I would not necessarily conclude that poor Robert lived for a very long time after he was stabbed. The pathologist knows more on these subjects than I do, but did he consider the possibility of drugs allowing rapid transit of blood into the small intestines when he wrote the autopsy report?

            • ced
              06/09/2009 at 8:30 AM

              The affadavit doesn’t mention an approximate time of death, just that he was dead for “some period of time” before the ambulance arrived. I don’t know how precisely medical examiners can pinpoint a time of death, say between 15 minutes and 1 hour, but it would seem to be critical information for understanding the timeline so it’s strange that the information is not available.

              One thought regarding the showering of the body. The second floor bathroom has a bathtub that is oriented in such a way that a person in the natural bathing position (feet at the faucet end) would have been horizontal and rotated 180 degrees from the body’s position on the bed. This makes inflicting the wounds at the angle described not awkward at all. Also, that the least awkward maneuver from bed to bathtub and back would be to carry the body horizontally between two people, feet first out of the guest room and feet first into the tub. One last detail about the bathtub is that the upstairs shower stall has a handheld shower head. If this was the case on the second floor, rinsing the body without water going where you don’t want it is easier.

              • Themis
                06/09/2009 at 10:06 AM

                Thanks for the info and insight, WH and ced. It helps me think through possibilities and speculate as what the defense can do, can’t do, and might do.

                Time of death is going to be critical, but it is difficult to pin down to a specific time without extrinsic information. Other important times generally are: (1) time from death to discovery of body; (2) time from discovery to refrigeratio; and (3) time from refrigeration to autopsy.

                I apologize for how clinical and potentially dehumanizing this all sounds, but death investigations have a clinical component to them.

              • ced
                06/09/2009 at 2:06 PM

                Actually, rereading my post I realized that the part about the body being a position 180 degrees rotated from the position on the bed was wrong. I’m the one that was rotated. Looking at the floor plan of the second floor in Open House – 2nd Viewing, the body would have been oriented exactly the same as in the bed, just with the feet at the opposite wall. Re: the shower fixture in the master bedroom, it’s visible in the mirror in the photo of the master bath.

                • CDinDC
                  06/09/2009 at 4:18 PM

                  ced,

                  I believe Robert was stabbed from behind, or from above his head in some manner…..the knife wounds are “upside down” so to speak. Which means if the person was in front of Robert, the knife would have been in an unnatural position. Sharp edge up.

                  • ced
                    06/09/2009 at 4:51 PM

                    That was why I brought up the tub detail — judging from the floor plan, there is plenty of room beside and at the head end of the bathtub for a right-handed person located behind his head or by his right shoulder to have easy reach. Just wanted to add more detail to the bathroom layout since calling it a “shower” makes me think of a shower stall whereas if it’s a tub, it’s all easier.

                    • CDinDC
                      06/09/2009 at 5:38 PM

                      Sounds like we’re on
                      the same page, ced.

                      The summary of the
                      autopsy report in the
                      affidavit indicates the
                      stab wounds are from
                      right to left and slightly
                      downward.

                      Slightly downward indicates to me that Robert’s body may have been at a slight incline. A natural position if laying in a tub.

                      I’ve truly believed all
                      along that Robert was
                      stabbed in the shower.

                    • ced
                      06/10/2009 at 2:33 AM

                      Exactly, CDinDC. The instinctive place to put something large and leaky (a wet umbrella for example) is the bathtub, which is precisely a body-size basin designed to catch liquid and carry it out of the house. Where I live (Spain) almost all shower heads are on handheld devices like telephone receivers that hang from a bracket on the wall and are connected to the faucet fixture by a hose, so they’re mobile and the spray can be directed where you want it. The two details together fill in the image of how naturally the stabbing and rinsing could have been done in the bathroom.

                      How possible it is to eliminate blood and DNA traces from the plumbing is not clear to me. Since the results of the analysis of the materials later taken out of the house are not in the affadavit, we don’t know if actual evidence was found that supports the bathroom theory. A lawyer would know if the prosecution would have to reveal this evidence in an obstruction indictment. It seems like the prosecutor has to narrowly focus the evidence on what happened after death to avoid making the trial about who killed him (for which sufficient evidence does not exist yet) to avoid double jeopardy. The interesting legal aspect (in the eyes of a non-lawyer) is that the more important crime, i.e. the murder itself, is outside the scope of the indictments.

            • Craig
              06/09/2009 at 11:00 AM

              Welcome Doctor. Welcome aboard and thank you.

              -Craig, editor

  4. CDinDC
    06/08/2009 at 9:50 PM

    Regarding ketamine, I strongly tuggest that everyone go to youtube.com, search ketamine, and withness an actual ketamine trip.

    Many people videotape themselves or other people while on ketamine.

    It’s an eye opening experience and you will truly understand how Robert Wone could be easily subdued whether he was “paralyzed” or not.

  5. CDinDC
    06/08/2009 at 10:07 PM
  6. Themis
    06/08/2009 at 10:42 PM

    That brings me back to Dr. Spitz, who says that prior to rigor stomach contents can flow into the duodenum. How far the contents would flow is something I would ask my own pathologist. It could verge on malpractice to rely on the ME.

    • CDinDC
      06/08/2009 at 10:54 PM

      i would be interested in knowing the state of livor mortis. It is not mentioned in the affidavit.

      And to anyone that is not familiar with livor mortis, it’s the settling of blood in a dead body. The blood will settle in the lowest area. In Robert’s case, his backside should have discolored depending on how long he had been deceased.

      • CDinDC
        06/08/2009 at 11:01 PM

        And while we’re discussing this, I wonder if the EMT’s took Robert’s body temperature at the scene. The rule of thumb is the body temperature drops one degree an hour. If his body temperature were less than 98.6, this may indicate death well before 11:48.

    • David
      06/08/2009 at 11:02 PM

      Themis,

      In Paul Duggan’s piece he says that Louis Goslinski, the medical examiner, performed the autospy “the next day.” So this places the autospy roughly anywhere from 8 to 16 hours after Robert’s body was brought to GW hospital. Does this help you at all?

      David, editor

      • Themis
        06/09/2009 at 9:59 AM

        The closer to death the autopsy is performed, the less like post-mortem artifacts or phenomena are to skew the results.

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