A Doctor Comments

The following comments were made by an American doctor whom I contacted through cyber-space. He wishes to remain anonymous.


I didn't want you to think I've forgotten you. I've spent some time reading
your web page and the autopsy report, and I'll try to answer at least some
of your questions.

I did want to ask if autopsy photographs were available, which would assist
in answering some of your questions. In the US, autopsy photographs are
generally not made available to the public, and are usually excluded at
trial as prejudicial. * Nonetheless, the following answers are incomplete
without examination of these photographs and subject to change following
examination of same.

I'm also not sure of the meaning of "frenzied" attack. I know there are
subtle differences in the meaning of words between England and the US, and I
further don't know if this phrase has any legal meaning in England. For
example, the phrase "depraved indifference" has both a common meaning, and a
specific legal meaning in US courts.

In answer to your query as to the location of wounds, here clearly the
autopsy photographs would provide the most definitive answer. From my
reading of the very precise autopsy report, both injuries 1) and 2) are in
the back. With regards to injury 1), the wound is described as posterior
(behind) to the posterior axillary line. The posterior axillary line is a
vertical line descending from the posterior axillary fold, which is the
posterior margin of the axilla (armpit).

With regards to the question as to whether the wounds could have been
inflicted with the men facing each other, I don't think I could accurately
answer this question without knowing additional details about the appearance
of the wounds (photographs) and seeing eyewitness testimony. In addition,
knowing the girth of the victim and the arm length of the assailant,
combined with his handedness, would be essential.

In general, a wound to the back can be inflicted when facing an opponent if
the two persons are very close to each other, and might even be considered
defensive if the person inflicting the wound was being grasped by the other
person. Please regard this as a general observation only which may or may
not pertain to this case.

With regards to your question as to whether the knife was twisted, I must
again qualify my answer as incomplete without the autopsy photographs. In
general, a complex wound such as described as Injury 1) can occur in several
ways. The knife can be twisted after insertion, which may require
considerable strength on the part of the attacker, or the knife can be
withdrawn and reinserted partially intersecting the first wound, or the
victim can move while the knife is held in a fixed position, again a
scenario which may require considerable strength on the part of the

With regards to your question as to whether an attack of this nature would
be consistent with an attempt to kill, this is a frequently posed question
which is very difficult to answer. Ultimately, only the assailant and his
maker know the true answer. In my experience, prosecutors tend to phrase
this line of questioning as to whether a reasonable person would have known
if the infliction of a specific injury could be expected to cause death.
With regards to this question, most juries conclude that a reasonable person
would know that a stab wound to the chest could be fatal.

I hope I have addressed at least some of your questions. Please feel free to
ask follow-up questions. I would view these answers as for your general
information only, and not for attribution without further discussion with

* In her biography of American serial killer Ted Bundy, Ann Rule writes at page 361 that: Dr Thomas Wood, a pathologist, testified about the autopsies on the two girls Bundy killed in the Chi Omega murders, and “over objections from Peggy Good, produced 11- by 14-inch color photos of the bodies, pointing out the damage to the jury.”

Peggy Good was one of Bundy's lawyers.

On the same page she points out that it is standard for defense attorneys to protest autopsy pictures, declaring them “inflammatory and with no probative value”, and it is standard too that the pictures are admitted.

While on page 362 the reader is informed that “In Florida reporters are allowed to view all the evidence that has been admitted.”

The full credits for the above book are THE STRANGER BESIDE ME, by Ann Rule, published by Warner Books/Little, Brown, London, Revised and Updated Edition, (1994).

To The Pathologist’s Report
Back To Other Articles Index
Back To Site Index