Day 3: Wrap
The Pace Picks Up
Six things we learned today:
1: Needle Marks. EMT Jeff Baker made the point repeatedly that the needle puncture marks found in the autopsy were not from any efforts to resuscitate Robert either at 1509 Swann or en route to George Washington University Hospital. This, despite the defense best efforts to knock it down.
Baker was also pressed on the striation marks – admitting confusion as to whether they were on the abdomen or chest, given the delay in Det. Waid’s interview three weeks later. Additionally, however it happened, Baker said Robert’s chest was exposed: unknown is who lifted or tore Robert’s shirt before Baker arrived.
One thing he was sure of: he could see Robert’s chest and there was no active bleeding. Last note: Grimm quizzed Baker: “Do you run or jog up the stairs on a call?” Baker: “I’m 44, 270 pounds. I walked up the steps.” Knowing laughter.
2: ER Procedures. GWU head nurse Leah Lujan marched through standard operating procedures for trauma cases such as this, and her particular role in documenting Robert’s treatment. As previously noted, Lujan made clear – on direct by Martin and cross by Richardson and Schertler – that the majority of needle puncture marks on Robert would not have come from any resuscitative activity while at GWU.
More after the jump.
Interestingly, after Lujan had stepped down, Schertler admitted “earlier negligence” in not objecting to introduction of the puncture wounds. “Physical evidence can’t be commented on,” queried Judge Leibovitz? “Unusual, odd, weird and fresh injuries have some relevance. It makes it a less ordinary than a more a more ordinary death.” She added, “…unexplained injuries were inflicted at some point.”
Schertler objected; objection overruled. “I can’t imagine rejecting it,” she offered. Thomas Connolly offered a thunderous rejoinder – one quickly dispatched from the bench.
3: Glaring Behavior. We’ve mentioned Ofc. Gregory Alemain’s recounting of the night, and Joe’s glares to Dylan. To repeat: “…like a little kid who got in trouble,” in his words. After cutting Ward off, Price repeated “…we heard a chime,” then added “…there’s a black guy that lives in the alley. And there’s a knife next to the bed.”
A rat-a-tat from Grimm followed: “Did you think it was important to tell homicide?” “Who did you tell it to?” “Did you tell any supervisor?” “Did it make it into your notes or report?” It seems the ‘glare’ only surfaced recently…a fact the defense ran with.
4: The ME. Kirschner positioned Dr. Goslinoski early on as an expert in forensic pathology. Her first glimpse of Robert was in the examining room and the body bag was unzipped. Anything unusual, Kirschner asked? The placement and orientation of the wounds, she responded. (Her report is here).
Hands, legs and arms were examined for defensive wounds, and only found a little dried blood on his right index finger. “Any blood on the hands?” No. “Did that surprise you?” Yes. As to the puncture wounds, she reports she was able to determine – based on vasodiolation and other signs – that the wounds to the elbow was “…more consistent with post-mortem,” while those at the ankle and chest “…were more consistent with anti-mortem or early post-mortem.”
5: The Blood. The tally from the autopsy of blood recovered in Robert’s body: approx. 2 liters. What she would expect to find in an average man of Robert’s age and build: 6 liters. Very little more was said. Message delivered.
6: Motion. “What the body’s response to a painful stimulus,” asked Kirschner. “Motion,” she replied. “Some motion is reflexive. Autonomic responses are not voluntary.” Throughout the day’s occasionally detailed medical testimony, Dr. Goslinoski was clear in her summation. “In 45 cases of knife autopsies,” she said, “this is the only case I’ve done…where there was no indication of motion in the torso or extremities.”
Parting shot: Grimm got a few question in to Dr. Goslinoski before breaking, and they weren’t softballs. “Were you pressured to say that (meaning the ‘duplicate Ward’ knife) that was the knife that could have caused that injury? You told us you received pressure to say it was the other knife,” said Grimm.
“Everyone wants me to identify a specific knife that inflicted the wounds. I simply cannot.”
Court reconvenes Friday at 11am.