X-Ray Specs

Dr. Henry Lee Has A Vision

The involvement and expected testimony of celebrity forensics expert Dr. Henry Lee has long been a topic of discussion here.  First word of his work on behalf of the defendants surfaced at last November’s status hearing.

At the time, it wasn’t clear if he would become a permanent member of the team because of his extensive travel.  Managed by Joe Price Counsel Bernie Grimm, Lee ultimately signed on and as best we can figure for a hefty fee, upwards of $50,000 we were told, maybe higher.

His name next surfaced in a January letter Grimm sent to the government alerting them that Dr. Lee was going to be performing forensic tests on Item 16, the towel found in the guest room at 1509 Swann Street that was supposedly applied to Robert’s wounds by Price.

It appears Dr Lee’s testing is complete and the results are in.   While tens of thousands of defense dollars will be spent on expert witnesses who will testify on the many reasons blood was not found at the scene, Lee will take a different tack on the witness stand.

According to his testing, he actually found blood where few if any have seen any.  That towel.

New to the clerk’s office is a follow up letter from Grimm to AUSAs Rachel Carlson Lieber, T. Patrick Martin and their boss, Homicide Chief, Glenn Kirschner, regarding Dr. Lee’s testing:

“Dr. Lee applied a chemical, tetramethylbenzidine (TMB), to the towel (Item 16) which enhanced the bloodstain.

“That enhancement confirmed his preliminary opinion that the impression on the towel is consistent with the towel being used to apply pressure to Mr. Wone’s stab wounds.”

There’s not much online for TMB online but this user guide from the President’s DNA Initiative gives a summary on it’s application as a catalytic presumptive test for blood.  According to a stone age research paper from 1976, a presumptive blood test, “..should be sensitive to some component of blood which remains even after the blood has dried, aged, or become diluted.”  The researchers found it could be an “invaluable presumptive test for blood.”

As for dna.gov, a Bush 43 initiative, tracing agent Luminol made it to their lab training manual but nowhere to be found is the craptacular Ashley’s Reagent, a chemical used by the MPD, that the defense will say, compromised the crime scene.

Who knows how this will play in front of the jury.  What exactly will they see when Bernie waves the bloody towel?  The government is challenging other defense experts, so maybe they’ll kick sand in Lee’s face as well.  This could all be decided at the May 5 evidentiary hearing, promised to be an all-day affair. 

Assume it gets into trial, how would the government respond to Lee’s findings?  Maybe they’ll echo what Louis Akin, our own in-house forensics jock, said after seeing that now iconic crime scene photo of the not-so-bloody towel, “That looks like someone cut themselves shaving.”

Beyond the beakers and bunsens, the spectacle that is Dr. Henry Lee could have an effect on the jury.  Certainly the wattage of any courtroom increases when a star of Lee’s magnitude testifies.  

How good is he on the stand?  It’s a safe bet that Kirschner will do everything he can to dim his lights but all the defense needs is one after all; one who may have watched too many true crime shows or is one of Lee’s 71 72 fans on Facebook.

Oh, and before you punch up the Doctor’s page you may want to muted your speakers.  The beating heart gets a little weird.

posted by Craig

26 comments for “X-Ray Specs

  1. CDinDC
    04/29/2010 at 2:45 PM

    I wonder how many jurors will recall Dr. Lee “losing” the fingernail in the Phil Spector/Lana Clarkson murder.

  2. CDinDC
    04/29/2010 at 2:45 PM

    I wonder how many jurors will recall Dr. Lee “losing” the fingernail in the Phil Spector/Lana Clarkson murder.

  3. Bea
    04/29/2010 at 2:54 PM

    Doesn’t sound like much substance to his testimony – and that it’s wide open for cross to make him look silly. I think any court admonishment in the Spector case can be raised on cross too (I think it was a formal one, if not, never mind). I know from the “In the Staircase” documentary about the Michael Peterson case in NC that he came across as a fool. Actually filled his mouth with ketchup and spit it to “prove” that the ghastly amount of blood in the staircase was more consistent with a ‘fall’ than being bludgeoned. How’s that again, Dr. Lee? You bleed UP three walls if you fall but not if beaten to death with a blunt instrument? In other words, he will say ANYTHING but sometimes it backfires out of simple common sense.

    • Craig
      04/29/2010 at 3:08 PM

      So Kirchner can pick apart Lee’s CV and career in front of the jury if he’s only been officially admonished?

      Can Kirschner frame Lee’s vaunted celebrity status as no reason for the jury to put additional weight behind his testimony, or is that the Judge’s job come instructions time?

      Although Lee only has 72 Facebook pals, might that be part of the jury questionaire too? “Do you follow him online or on TV? Have you ever attending a speech of his? Did you follow any high profile cases his name was attached to?”

      • Bea
        04/29/2010 at 3:29 PM

        He can pick apart everything that’s genuine, but if there was an official court admonishment (I should check to see) in the Spector case then undoubtedly the prosecution will put that front and center.

        Maybe I’m dense, but it doesn’t seem like much to opine that the towel was used to push against the wound – I suppose inherent in that is that it wasn’t used to wipe blood on the fake knife. But if he’s going to say this towel, with these few spots, is what it took to stanch the bleeding, I can hear the jurors’ snickers now . . .

        • Bea
          04/29/2010 at 3:40 PM

          See:

          “Judge Larry Paul Fidler made a ruling this morning likely to be heard around the world — that famous criminalist Henry Lee withheld evidence from prosecutors. At issue was a small, white object three people said they saw at the crime scene. A former Spector defense lawyer, Sara Caplan, and a defense investigator both said they saw Lee pick up the object in the foyer of Spector’s Alhambra mansion.

          Prosecutors claim it was a piece of Lana Clarkson’s fingernail, which would show, as Head Deputy Dist. Atty Patrick Dixon said in court, that Clarkson’s hand was in front of her face when the shot was fired, so “her hands and her fingers were not on the trigger.” Lee had testified attorney Caplan was mistaken in what she saw. Fidler called Lee a “world renowned expert,” but said “I have to choose between the two and Miss Caplan is more credible than Dr. Lee.” Fidler said he couldn’t say if the item was a fingernail, but ruled jurors can be told about the missing item and decide for themselves, using the information to weigh Lee’s credibility.

          The jury would, however, be told not to hold the infraction against Mr. Spector, since there was no evidence he knew about the breach, which was committed by his former defense team. Lee, formerly the chief criminalist for the State of Connecticut, has become both a celebrity since his appearance in the O.J. Simpson trial and a busy expert witness in trials around the world. . . Lee, a key defense witness, is expected to testify about scientific evidence he says demonstrates that Spector was too far away to fire the lethal shot at Clarkson. Experts say Fidler’s ruling can now be cited to impeach Lee in other court cases as well.”

  4. Bea
    04/29/2010 at 2:54 PM

    Doesn’t sound like much substance to his testimony – and that it’s wide open for cross to make him look silly. I think any court admonishment in the Spector case can be raised on cross too (I think it was a formal one, if not, never mind). I know from the “In the Staircase” documentary about the Michael Peterson case in NC that he came across as a fool. Actually filled his mouth with ketchup and spit it to “prove” that the ghastly amount of blood in the staircase was more consistent with a ‘fall’ than being bludgeoned. How’s that again, Dr. Lee? You bleed UP three walls if you fall but not if beaten to death with a blunt instrument? In other words, he will say ANYTHING but sometimes it backfires out of simple common sense.

    • Craig
      04/29/2010 at 3:08 PM

      So Kirchner can pick apart Lee’s CV and career in front of the jury if he’s only been officially admonished?

      Can Kirschner frame Lee’s vaunted celebrity status as no reason for the jury to put additional weight behind his testimony, or is that the Judge’s job come instructions time?

      Although Lee only has 72 Facebook pals, might that be part of the jury questionaire too? “Do you follow him online or on TV? Have you ever attending a speech of his? Did you follow any high profile cases his name was attached to?”

      • Bea
        04/29/2010 at 3:29 PM

        He can pick apart everything that’s genuine, but if there was an official court admonishment (I should check to see) in the Spector case then undoubtedly the prosecution will put that front and center.

        Maybe I’m dense, but it doesn’t seem like much to opine that the towel was used to push against the wound – I suppose inherent in that is that it wasn’t used to wipe blood on the fake knife. But if he’s going to say this towel, with these few spots, is what it took to stanch the bleeding, I can hear the jurors’ snickers now . . .

        • Bea
          04/29/2010 at 3:40 PM

          See:

          “Judge Larry Paul Fidler made a ruling this morning likely to be heard around the world — that famous criminalist Henry Lee withheld evidence from prosecutors. At issue was a small, white object three people said they saw at the crime scene. A former Spector defense lawyer, Sara Caplan, and a defense investigator both said they saw Lee pick up the object in the foyer of Spector’s Alhambra mansion.

          Prosecutors claim it was a piece of Lana Clarkson’s fingernail, which would show, as Head Deputy Dist. Atty Patrick Dixon said in court, that Clarkson’s hand was in front of her face when the shot was fired, so “her hands and her fingers were not on the trigger.” Lee had testified attorney Caplan was mistaken in what she saw. Fidler called Lee a “world renowned expert,” but said “I have to choose between the two and Miss Caplan is more credible than Dr. Lee.” Fidler said he couldn’t say if the item was a fingernail, but ruled jurors can be told about the missing item and decide for themselves, using the information to weigh Lee’s credibility.

          The jury would, however, be told not to hold the infraction against Mr. Spector, since there was no evidence he knew about the breach, which was committed by his former defense team. Lee, formerly the chief criminalist for the State of Connecticut, has become both a celebrity since his appearance in the O.J. Simpson trial and a busy expert witness in trials around the world. . . Lee, a key defense witness, is expected to testify about scientific evidence he says demonstrates that Spector was too far away to fire the lethal shot at Clarkson. Experts say Fidler’s ruling can now be cited to impeach Lee in other court cases as well.”

  5. CC Biggs
    04/29/2010 at 4:36 PM

    This case won’t be decided by expert testimony. I’m willing to assume that the “dueling experts” will cancel each other out. What the jury will then be left to decide is whether the facts — the cumulative, damning array of facts — supports the prosecution’s charges of obstruction/conspiracy, or whether the facts support the alternative theory that the murder (and cleanup!) was performed by an unseen, silent “intruder” while the defendants innocently slept away in their beds. What do you think a jury will decide?

  6. CC Biggs
    04/29/2010 at 4:36 PM

    This case won’t be decided by expert testimony. I’m willing to assume that the “dueling experts” will cancel each other out. What the jury will then be left to decide is whether the facts — the cumulative, damning array of facts — supports the prosecution’s charges of obstruction/conspiracy, or whether the facts support the alternative theory that the murder (and cleanup!) was performed by an unseen, silent “intruder” while the defendants innocently slept away in their beds. What do you think a jury will decide?

  7. Doug
    04/29/2010 at 4:56 PM

    [Ed note: Craig, where did you get that graphic?]

  8. Doug
    04/29/2010 at 4:56 PM

    [Ed note: Craig, where did you get that graphic?]

  9. Lyn
    04/29/2010 at 7:56 PM

    Wow, that is a lot of blood on that towel that Price was holding to Wone’s three deep stab wounds. There is so much blood, it is covering almost an entire 1/300th of the towel.

    Or maybe there really was a ton of blood, but the towel was a super absorbant sham-wow so only 1/300th of the towel was needed to absorb multiple pints of fluid. Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

  10. Lyn
    04/29/2010 at 7:56 PM

    Wow, that is a lot of blood on that towel that Price was holding to Wone’s three deep stab wounds. There is so much blood, it is covering almost an entire 1/300th of the towel.

    Or maybe there really was a ton of blood, but the towel was a super absorbant sham-wow so only 1/300th of the towel was needed to absorb multiple pints of fluid. Yeah, that sounds reasonable.

  11. Craig
    04/29/2010 at 10:23 PM

    It’s from one of my old back issues of Little Lulu, right next to the Sea Monkeys ad.

    • CDinDC
      04/30/2010 at 9:57 AM

      Doesn’t the original ad have the guy ogling a woman on the beach?

      • Craig
        04/30/2010 at 10:09 AM

        Yes, but we run a family blog here.

        • CDinDC
          04/30/2010 at 10:20 AM

          Yes, I can “see” that. :>

  12. Craig
    04/29/2010 at 10:23 PM

    It’s from one of my old back issues of Little Lulu, right next to the Sea Monkeys ad.

    • CDinDC
      04/30/2010 at 9:57 AM

      Doesn’t the original ad have the guy ogling a woman on the beach?

      • Craig
        04/30/2010 at 10:09 AM

        Yes, but we run a family blog here.

        • CDinDC
          04/30/2010 at 10:20 AM

          Yes, I can “see” that. :>

  13. Clio
    04/29/2010 at 10:53 PM

    From that particular still photo, IMHO, Dr. Lee has aged considerably, and not well, I am afraid. Karma will do that to ya!

  14. Clio
    04/29/2010 at 10:53 PM

    From that particular still photo, IMHO, Dr. Lee has aged considerably, and not well, I am afraid. Karma will do that to ya!

Comments are closed.