Yesterday I had the privilege – well, the experience - of watching an associate medical examiner demonstrate his apparent lack of any real ability to answer questions from attorneys without looking both incompetent and indecisive..
The question was raised about how much separation existed between the muzzle of G. Zimmeran’s hand gun and the body of T. Martin when the single fatal shot was fired. The ballistics tech had described the injury as a contact shot due to wound shape, stippling, and other factors. The ME who performed the post-mortem exam apparently has developed a classification system of his own that varies from the ballistics determination and the accepted forensic pathology definitions . Combined with his less than stellar English, his insistence upon talking over questions, and his non-adherence to standard forensic practices and procedures, he turned in a performance that would cause me, if I were a juror, to question his competence. Normally, I don’t watch televised trials. However, the forensics in this case will win or lose it and I have always had an interest in forensic pathology and other forensic studies..
“Forensic Pathology of Firearm Wounds
· Author: Randall E Frost, MD; Chief Editor: Stephen J Cina, MD more...
Aspects of Firearm Wounds
The expert medicolegal examination of firearm wounds may allow determination of several aspects of these injuries, including the following :
· Range of fire
· Type of weapon used to inflict the injury
· Trajectory of the missile or projectile
· Type and extent of the injuries inflicted by the projectile(s)
Range of fire, or muzzle to target distance, may be divided into contact, near contact, intermediate, and distant categories, with various subtypes also demonstrable. Contact and intermediate range wounds are often collectively referred to as close-range wounds.
Determination of range of fire is based on the characteristics of a firearm wound, features of the wound that have been imparted by material issuing from the muzzle of the firearm other than the bullet, or from features due to direct interactions between the target and the firearm itself. Material from the firearm muzzle may take the form of soot, hot gas, gunpowder particles, or other material, and the effects of this material are discussed in more detail below. The range of fire has obvious relevance to such issues as whether a wound is self-inflicted or inflicted by another person, the truth of proffered explanations of shooting events, and the validity of self-defense arguments.”