Return Engagement

Plaintiffs Amend Expert Witness List

A short, one-page filing hit the DC Superior Court clerk’s office this week, submitted by Plainfiff counsel Brett Reynolds of Covington.

DC Deputy Medical Examiner, Dr. Lois Goslinoski

In early March, Covington filed their first iteration of the expert list but new to the amended list of witnesses they expect to call at the October wrongful death trial is an old name – DC’s Deputy medical Examiner, Lois Goslinoski. 

Goslinoski was a key witness for the government during last summer’s conspiracy and obstruction trial.  We learned that her depo for the civil trial took place on May 2.

She testified during the first week of the trial and for the most part held up during a blistering round of cross by the defense team.  Highlights of her testimony and opinions follow, as well as some key dates on the calendar to keep in mind.

Notes from her testimony on Day 3: 

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.”

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.

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.”

Goslinoski and AUSA T. Patrick martin

Where she came up short as far as the government was concerned, was her hesitancy to say that the Ward cutlery set knife was the murder weapon. 

Extensive notes are here from her triple cross on Day 4 from Grimm, Schertler and Connolly (and Kirschner redirect).  Highlights were this:

“We went to cover a trial today, but an anatomy lesson broke out. The morning kicked off where yesterday’s session ended, with Joe Price counsel Bernie Grimm’s cross examination of DC Deputy Medical Examiner and the validity of her autopsy report on Robert Wone’s murder.

Although strong in his questioning, Dr. Goslinoski took Grimm to school, anatomy school to be precise.

Grimm:  Would you agree that the heart is a pump?

Goslinoski:  Yes.

Grimm:  Would you agree that the aorta is a pumping unit?

Goslinoski:  No. That’s the job of the ventricles.

Following Grimm was his colleagues Thomas Connolly and David Schertler.  After the jump, how her testimony and findings fared.

Grimm pressed Goslinoski on the stab wounds’ paths (the organs and major vessels) in an effort to elicit her opinion on cadiac tamponade, the filling of the pericardial sac with blood.  The defense has experts lined up who are going to testify that a single stab would to Robert’s heart would’ve rendered him unconscious and unable to move within seconds, perhaps within a heartbeat.

Not so according to Dr. Goslinowski. Tamponade would’ve been a risk at some point but she did not believe that it was the case in this stabbing.  Grimm pressed her, “Do you agree that during tamponade, the pericardial sac constricts and stops the heart?”  “At some point,” Goslinoski repeated, underscoring her opinion that it is not immediate. “In a matter of seconds?” Grimm asked again.  Her reply again was no.

Previewing defense expert witnesses to come, Grimm asked if a cardiac surgeon or cardiologist could have a different opinion.  “Anyone can have a different opinion,” she said.  Under Grimm’s scenario, blood “gushed into the sac and the body cavities,  but Goslinoski differed again. She used the word “seep.”

Next up on the calendar, first set by former presiding Judge Brook Hedge, last October, is another deadline – June 1 is the date when all discovery should be complete.  In theory, all of the depos should’ve wrapped by then, and if that’s the case, it’s been a busy (and interesting) month or two. Of course, extensions could be filed to further drag out this case (and nearly five year old murder investigation).  Judge Michael Rankin hasn’t given any indication he wants to see anything fast-tracked, but maybe he’ll keep the wheels of justice moving.

Also new is what may be the next motions hearing date – August 1.  That day was on Hedge’s scheduling order as a deadline that dispositive motions were to be decided.  Between those two dates is a June 14 ADR meeting and a July 1 deadline for filing of motions.  

Over the next few weeks we’ll know if any of those dates will stick or slide.

13 comments for “Return Engagement

  1. Bill Orange
    05/19/2011 at 11:55 AM

    I’m a bit surprised she wasn’t on their list to begin with. I think she got unfairly dumped on at the trial (with an appropriate rebuke from the judge), but I thought she did quite well on the stand.

    As for the blood, I have to repeat that her testimony is meaningless without knowing what the “ins and outs” were in the ER (and the ambulance). They put in two chest tubes in the ER, which could have potentially drained a lot of blood, and they also pumped in a lot of IV fluid. If you don’t know what those numbers are, the fact that there was only 2 L of blood at autopsy doesn’t mean much.

    • Bea
      05/19/2011 at 6:59 PM

      Here’s to hoping that Covington has covered the issue better than the prosecution did. Even if to follow up with vague “how much blood was lost in the ER” to relevant personnel. The tamponade defense as to why there was no blood to clean up would tend to mean that almost all his blood was still in his body. Something has to give.

      My guess is that the needle marks will come in along with the notion of either pharmaceutical or other “normal” kinds of restraint as being central to Mr. Wone having no defensive wounds.

    • noaharc
      05/19/2011 at 9:59 PM

      agree w/ your analysis of the blood but she did well

    • cdindc
      05/20/2011 at 7:15 PM

      Bill O says: “They put in two chest tubes in the ER, which could have potentially drained a lot of blood…”

      The EMT indicated that Robert was dead at the house. If this is true, he wouldn’t have bleed profusely at the hospital if a chest tube was inserted. Dead people don’t “bleed.” The pumping of the heart is what causes blood to continually flow from an opening in the skin. The harder the pumping, the more the blood flows. If his heart had stopped and/or nearly stopped, bleeding would be minimal, if any.

      However, moving a dead body to and fro could cause blood to escape (seep) from the wounds. To and fro, like from a bathroom to a bedroom. Just sayin’

      • Bill Orange
        05/20/2011 at 10:48 PM

        We’ve never seen the ER reports. My understanding is that he was in PEA (pulseless electrical activity) both in the ambulance and at some point in the ER. That would fit with an aggressive resuscitation, which is what sounds like happened at the ER. The point of the chest tubes would have been to drain any blood (or other fluid, or even air) that had collected around the lungs. You don’t need a pumping heart for this. (Though a pumping heart and an active bleed will certainly increase the blood flow through the tubes.)

        • cdindc
          05/20/2011 at 10:57 PM

          That’s a good point, Bill O. “agressive resuscitation” (CPR?) would probably force blood out of any openings in the skin.

          • Bill Orange
            05/21/2011 at 11:32 AM

            If there were two chest tubes in place, then they did a lot more than just standard CPR.

            • cdindc
              05/21/2011 at 11:56 AM

              Sure. I suppose a simple question to the medical personel attending to Robert addressing this would certainly make things a bit more clear. “Did your medical procedures cause a lot of blood loss?”

              • Bill Orange
                05/21/2011 at 7:00 PM

                I’m fairly sure Covington already knows what happened in the ER. Kathy Wone would’ve had access to the medical records from the very beginning, so it’s not like they’d need to work though legal channels to get the records.

                The defense team, on the other hand, may have to fight for them. Frankly, I thought the defense in the criminal trial handled the medical issues very poorly. I still can’t believe they focused on PEA as much (and as poorly) as they did. There was evidence at trial that there was a delay in calling 911 and that no one was doing CPR (or even applying pressure to Robert’s wounds) when EMS arrived. And the defense still went out of its way to show that Robert Wone was still alive when he got to the ER.

  2. Clio
    05/19/2011 at 9:45 PM

    Why couldn’t Dr. G. connect the Ward heirloom to the wounds?

    Also, did Bernie think that Lynn and/or Lois were dumb? Who would disagree with the fact that the human heart is a pump?

    The tell-tale heart may still lie with the defendants, however. Fingers still crossed!

  3. Clio
    05/19/2011 at 10:35 PM

    From his bio blurb, Attorney Reynolds of Covington looks like the son whom Needham may have wished he had had. Brett, a University of Chicago grad, can speak to me in French any time of the day: let’s hope that Michael R. was wowed, too!

  4. boofoc
    05/20/2011 at 2:29 PM

    Might have guessed you’d jump on that one with haste, Clio; anybody named Brett can’t be___________(fill in the blank).

    • Clio
      05/23/2011 at 2:28 AM

      Speaking of filling in the blank — it was Brett Summers, though, who took the cake on Match Game!

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