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.
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.”
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?
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.