Welcome Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

Itching for news on Phelps Collins, don’t go far…..

A big shout out and welcome to the folks over at the Criminal Justice Legal Foundation, whose blog ran a write up about our op-ed in the Washington Post.  We appreciate the attention as our community works together to help bring justice to the tragic murder of Robert Wone.

The Criminal Justice Legal Foundation was established in 1982 as a CropperCapture[18]nonprofit, public interest law organization dedicated to restoring a balance between the rights of crime victims and the criminally accused. 

The Foundation’s dispassionate, low-profile approach has resulted in scores of U.S. Supreme Court decisions having a national effect to reduce the length, complexity and expense of appeals, recognize the rights and needs of child crime victims, and improve law enforcement’s ability to identify and prosecute all types of criminals.

Hopefully they will bring us some new eyeballs and additional thoughts as the third anniversary of Robert’s murder approaches, and as we all move towards the trial in May.

STRAY CAT STRUT: Don’t stray too far because everyone’s favorite cat torturer and Michael Price cohort in crime, Phelps Collins, will be sentenced today.  The editors will be on hand and scratching out a post later on that.

— David

28 comments for “Welcome Criminal Justice Legal Foundation

  1. Clio
    07/29/2009 at 3:05 PM

    David, I love the added readers and supplemental invitation, as always. One cannot hear too much about Phelps, Michael, Louis, Sarah, Tom and John, etc. — the trouple’s very own “damage control” entourage.

  2. Anon
    07/29/2009 at 8:43 PM

    I followed the Washington Post Op-Ed to this site. It’s nicely done.

    One thing I don’t understand about the Paul Duggan article. It makes it seem like a big mystery why there was so little blood at the scene. The prosecution’s theory seems to be that the housemates cleaned up all the blood before they called the police. But that leaves the problem of how they disposed of all the blood-drenched sheets and cleaning supplies.

    Isn’t there a much simpler explanation? That Wone was stabbed after he was already dead? That would explain the lack of blood and also explain why a clean-up job wasn’t necessary. In that case Price might even be telling the truth that the towel found on the floor in the bedroom was the towel he actually held to Wone’s chest as directed by the 911 operator. The reason the towel didn’t have much blood on it is because there wasn’t much blood coming from the post-mortem stab wounds.

    So what killed him then, if the stabs were post mortem? The prosecution is already theorizing that the housemates injected him with some sort of incapacitating drug. What if they gave him too big a dose and killed him? Maybe it was even an accident, and then they panicked when they realized he was dead and stabbed him to make it look like a deliberate homicide by some unknown “intruder.”

    • Bea
      07/29/2009 at 9:16 PM

      Hi Anon,
      The autopsy reports that Robert Wone was alive for a considerable period of time AFTER the stabbing based on the amount of blood in the duodenum. In other words, NOT post-mortem.

      • CDinDC
        07/29/2009 at 9:44 PM

        Not to mention, there was evidence of blood outside on the patio. In addition, the house was basically dismantled for evidence, which leads me to believe they found evidence of blood in other parts of the house. They wouldn’t take the drywall if they didn’t suspect blood was on it.

  3. Anon
    07/30/2009 at 9:22 PM

    Interesting. Thanks for clearing that up for me and keep up the good work with this site.

  4. Themis
    07/30/2009 at 10:02 PM

    Again, hate to be the spoilsport, but . . . our resident non-forensic physician has stated that the physiological findings upon which the ME based her opinion are not conclusive. Blood can travel to the duodenum and be “digested” post-mortem. There are other problems with the autopsy that are probably not relative to guilt on the charges brought but which may make a jury wonder about the integrity of the prosecution.

    Government autopsies are not the last word. Not to mention the fact that we don’t have the full autopsy yet, just a summary. We may never see the photos (for Ms. Wone’s sake that hopefully will be true), but the photos are worth a thousand affidavits and summaries.

    The idea that the ME may make a conclusive determination as to pre/peri/post-mortem injuries in this case is naive. If coroners were perfect, there would be no exhumations and no exonerations. We all know that is not the case.

    And, FYI, for those new to the site, I am a criminal defense attorney who has defended a number of murder cases. My experience is of some use I think; my perspective (personally and professionally) is what it is. For whatever that’s worth.

  5. CDinDC
    07/31/2009 at 10:04 AM

    For anyone that cares to know, a “non forensic physician” is a medical doctor (MD).

    A “Medical Examiner” is not only an MD, but a board certified pathologist. A Medical Examiner is required by law to undergo formal training in forensic pathology.

    So an ME has the same training as a “non-forensic physican”, but with additional training in forensics and the examination and pathology of corpses.

    In order to perform an autopsy, you must be board certified. A non-forensic physician would not be able to perform autopsies.

    An ME is a little more specialized than an MD. Although they both went through medical school, you probably wouldn’t want your MD doing your autopsy, and you probably wouldn’t want your ME diagnosing your heart disease. One works on the living and one works on the dead.

  6. CDinDC
    07/31/2009 at 11:24 AM

    The topic of post mortem digestion has come up here and there on this website……

    Here’s some food for thought. Ronald Goldman, as we all know was the friend of Nicole Brown Simpson’s that was stabbed to death at her home on the night of her death. The time of his stabbing and the time of the discovery of his body coincide with the timing of the stabbing and discovery of Robert Wone.

    RG was stabbed somewhere between 9:45 and 10:15 pm and his body was discovered at midnight. He died from multiple stab wounds, twice in the chest and once in the abdomen. (and multiple “non-fatal” wounds to legs, etc.) The wound to his abdomen, was a fatal hemorrhagic wound, not unlike Robert Wone’s.

    His autopsy below indicated that NO BLOOD was found in his duodenum.

    My thoughts are that Ronald Goldman died immediately of his wounds, hence no antemortem (before death) or perimortem (of or around time of death) digestion.

    Robert Wone had blood in his duodenum. Robert Wone may have, indeed, lived long enough to digest his own blood.

    And from what I’ve researched, post mortem digestion is not like a full-fledged digestion as we know it to be (while alive), it’s a slower, eating away affect caused by one’s body decomposing. Appartently, bits of flesh, blood vessels, etc will begin to collapse into one’s own digestive system.

    I would imagine a forensic pathologist could tell the difference.

    From Ronald Goldman’s Autopsy:


    The mucosa and wall of the esophagus are intact and gray-pink, without
    lesions or injuries.

    The gastric mucosa is intact and pink without injury. There are no focal
    lesions, no residual medications, and no swallowed blood is present.
    Approximately 200 ml of partially digested semisolid food is found in the
    stomach with the presence of fragments of green leafy vegetable material
    compatible with spinach.

    The mucosa of the duodenum, jejunum, ileum, colon and rectum are intact.
    The lumen is patent. There are no mucosal lesions or injuries and no blood is present. The fecal content is usual in appearance.

    The vermiform appendix is present.

  7. WH
    07/31/2009 at 1:05 PM

    Thanks CD. The GI tract is a like a tube from your mouth to your anus–blood cannot enter unless this tube is somehow violated. Mr Goldman’s GI tract was intact (i.e. the stab wound did not violate the mucosa anywhere). Therefore no blood would be found in it. Not the case for Mr Wone. I cannot recall the exact location of the wound (and can’t remember where to find the autopsy report in the documents), but one of his stab wounds had violated his esophagus or stomach I believe. This blood could have migrated to his duodenum while alive (via peristalsis–muscle action) or while dead (simple gravity while the body is manipulated, aided by a drug-induced relaxed pyloric sphincter in the stomach). In either case, digestion could occur after death as the digestive enzymes are present at some level in the stomach and duodenum and would still work until the body is cold.

    To elaborate a bit on your point above, their are forensic pathologists and non-forensic pathologists. Either can perform autopsies, but for different reasons. A non-forensic pathologist would do an autopsy on your relative who died of a mysterious illness, when requested by the family to figure out what it was. A forensic pathologist will usually serve as Medical Examiner for criminal cases. They usually have a bit of additional training, but both are board-certified. (I am neither–I am an infectious disease/HIV specialist, but I think I’m the only regular poster here who is a physician so I had to throw in my two cents)

    • Craig
      07/31/2009 at 1:13 PM

      WH – Thanks loads for your insights. The Deputy M.E’s notes from the autopsy can be found here in the first affidavit.

    • CDinDC
      07/31/2009 at 1:18 PM

      But I guess the point of my post was that the blood could indeed have been digested while alive as the M.E. indicated in her report.

      Also, my post points out that a “non-forensic Physician” (MD) does not have pathology training. A non-forensic PATHOLOGIST would clearly have pathology training. Being a board certified Pathologist is the key to being able to perform autopsies.

    • CDinDC
      07/31/2009 at 1:18 PM

      WH says: “I think I’m the only regular poster here who is a physician so I had to throw in my two cents)”

      Love love love your two cents. I wish you would post more often.

      • WH
        07/31/2009 at 1:41 PM

        Thanks CD! I would post more often, if I felt I had more to contribute. But I am not nearly as imaginative as some of our other regulars in coming up with fresh thoughts to explain this case. I did look back at the autopsy report (thanks for pointing me to it, Craig). It notes only the “small intestine” but does not specify duodenum, jejunum, or ileum (the three “zones” of the small intestine). This does not really matter, as the small intestine is continous and liquid in it can freely flow throughout with peristalsis (before death) or gravity.

        CD, you are absolutely correct about everything you wrote in your post. I just wanted to clarify the difference between forensic and other pathologists, for those whose family members or friends may have had non-forensic autopsies.

        • CDinDC
          07/31/2009 at 1:51 PM

          A question WH….the autopsy reported that blood was two feet into Robert’s duodenum.

          Would pre- or peri-mortem digestion take it that far? In an hour? How far would postmortem digestion take blood in 1 hour?

          Or do you think part digestion/part gravity (the defendants carrying Robert’s body to adn fro)?

          • CDinDC
            07/31/2009 at 1:59 PM

            And this question is so very important as it can more accurately define the time of the assault, which could refute the “bedtime story.”

          • WH
            07/31/2009 at 2:07 PM

            It’s difficult to answer that question without knowing where in the small intestine his injury was. But it’s certainly possible for peristalsis to move liquids through the small intestines very rapidly when someone is alive. The term “digestion” properly refers to the enzymatic breakdown of the blood, not the movement of the blood through he duodenum. This process will continue after death until the available digestive enzymes are all “used up” or until the body is cold, which dramatically slows the process. This could in theory go on for an hour or more after death.

            Peristalsis (the muscle contractions of the intestines which move material through the GI tract) would stop at death or within a few minutes of it; but liquids could easily be moved two feet through the duodenum by a process of cleaning the body which may have involved turning him over once or twice. This likely happened fast, as the blood would have tended to clot in the GI tract (but again, the clotting may not occur as quickly if the blood was diluted by water or other liquids already in the intestines)

            I apologize for the graphic references, and hope, as always, that Robert’s killers will be brought to justice.

            • CDinDC
              07/31/2009 at 2:17 PM

              So the digestion of the blood after death will simply break down the blood where it happens to be. Not move the blood further into the digestive track after death.

              This is a very valuable post as I believe that many people not in the medical field use the term “digestion” generically for the process a body goes through after eating.

              We all know that our food “moves” through the body, but we never refer to it as peristalis.

              • WH
                07/31/2009 at 2:28 PM

                Exactly. Medically, digestion means only the enzymatic breakdown of food and materials, not the transit of same through the GI tract.

                Funny how after years in medicine one forgets how terms mean different things to people outside the field. I’m certain the same must be true in the legal field!

                • CDinDC
                  07/31/2009 at 2:32 PM

                  WH…is this correct?

                  So the digestion of the blood after death will simply break down the blood where it happens to be (and not transport it further into the digestive system).

                  • WH
                    08/01/2009 at 8:58 AM

                    that’s correct

  8. CDinDC
    07/31/2009 at 3:21 PM

    WH says: “Peristalsis (the muscle contractions of the intestines which move material through the GI tract) would stop at death or within a few minutes of it; but liquids could easily be moved two feet through the duodenum by a process of cleaning the body which may have involved turning him over once or twice.”

    So to sum it up…….if Robert had blood 2 feet into his duodenum.

    1) he could have been alive long enough for pre-death peristalis to carry it that far (peristalis stops almost immediately after death),

    2) Robert died immediately and “gravity” pushed the blood farther into his duodenum, or

    3) a combination of both….alive long enough for the blood to travel into his duodenum a certain distance and then the rest of the way because he was moved.

    Personally, I imagine it to be 3. He stabbed, perhaps in the bathroom, he was allowed to bleed in a contained area and then rinsed off, and then moved into the bedroom where he died

  9. Greg
    08/17/2009 at 11:16 PM

    Clearly we know by now why this little “menage a trois” of suspects are likely to be acquitted:

    1. this was a “gay” murder and ipso facto, not considered worthy by the DC police of a serious investigation.

    2. legendary incompetence, by the investigators, FBI and prosecutors.

    3. Joseph Price, the “A” suspect, is a good lawyer and like Charles Manson, orchestrated his “family” to clam up, prepped a plausible if decetiful story, hired the best lawyers the DC bar can offer and never deviated.

    4. It’s easy die in DC and never get justice. If this murder happened in VA, these 3 would be spending a lifetime behind bars. But be afraid, very afraid if you live in the District.
    So as I expect, these three alleged sexual predators are acquitted, don’t be surprised. Just b

  10. Greg
    08/17/2009 at 11:21 PM

    to finish my thought, just be appalled at this miscarriage of justice.

    • Craig
      08/18/2009 at 11:08 AM

      Good points all Greg – There’s a school of thought that says this case may not even come to trial in its present state, that the 3-some cannot hang together with varying degress of guilt but a constant of 38 years looming over them.

      Assuming them guilty of conspiracy means that to avoid a stretch in the Big House, one defendant flips on the other two. But flipping means pinning a murder charge on someone.

      If that happens I guess they reset the clock, seat another grand jury and Kirschner goes for the big score.

      • CDinDC
        08/18/2009 at 12:41 PM

        Somebody needs to drop a dime.

  11. Craig
    08/18/2009 at 1:56 PM

    Call collect!

    • Bea
      08/18/2009 at 3:57 PM

      C’mon, Victor! We’ll all support you!!

  12. galoon
    08/18/2009 at 5:57 PM

    Best. Song. Ever.

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