Saturday, June 11, 2011


On Friday, June 10, 2001, it was a great day for the prosecution in the Casey Anthony murder trial.  Dr. G. (aka Dr. Jan Garavagila from the Dr. G, Medical Examiner show), told jurors that Caylee Anthony's manner of death was a HOMICIDE and NOT an ACCIDENT.

Reasons that Dr. G. called Caylee's death a homicide are:

Cheney:  Did Dr. Spitz come to the autopsy?
Dr. G: I was informed by my office that Mr. Baez had requested to bring in an outside person into to watch the autopsy, but the policy in our office is that we have a statutory duty to come up with the cause and manner of death.  We would preserve everything possible and then make that possible when we are finished.
Cheney: Ok. And you told Mr. Ashton that in your determination of the manner of death, you consider all kinds of circumstances.
Dr. G: Yes, I do.
And in doing that in this case, are you aware that of whether or not Dr. Spitz did a second autopsy?
Cheney: Now, I want to go back briefly to Dr. Goldberger.  I've been reminded that he's a medical doctor, isn't he?
Dr. G.: No, he is not.
Cheney: He's not?
Dr. G.:  Dr. Goldberger?
Cheney: Uh-huh.
Dr. G.: He's a PhD

Cheney: Is he also a medical doctor?
Dr. G.: Not to my knowledge.
Cheney: Alright.  Well, what things do you know that he tested besides that piece of bone?
Dr. G.:  Um, let's see (she looks down at her notes), he tested for volatiles.; he tested bone ... the scrapings I took from the inside of the bone. Um, the hair and soil that kind of fell out of the hair, and that was for volatile. And then he tested the bone, and the scrapings from the bone marrow, and washings we did from the cranial cavity and he tested that for bigast-chromatograft, for prescription drugs, illicit drugs.  And then he tested specifically for alprazolam, in the bone, the scrapings of the bone cavity, the washings of the cranial cavity were all then specifically tested for alprazolam.
Cheney: And alprazolam, what's a more common name for that?
Dr. G.: It's a benzodiazepine, also known as Xanax.

Cheney: Xanax?
Dr. G.: Yes.
Cheney: So he tested for all those things and all the results were negative.
Dr. G.: That is correct.
Cheney: And speaking of cranial wash, you did not cut open the cranium, did you?
No, absolutely not.
And you told Mr. Ashton also that there was no trauma found in your examination, correct?
No antemortem trauma, meaning prior to death. We found some POST-mortem trauma from animals chewing on bones... (as soon as she said "chewing on bones", Casey, who is watching Dr. G. closely, frowned.)
Cheney: You found the post-mortem trauma, the anthropologist confirmed to you that there was indication that there had been animal activity.
Dr. G.: OH, you could say that! And that was part of my examination.
Cheney (raising his voice louder):  But ANYTHING that happened BEFORE, there's NO evidence of ANY form of trauma before, when this child was alive.
Dr. G: On the bones, there was no evidence of trauma.
Cheney: And in your exploring all of the world of circumstances about this, you didn't find about any trauma either, did you?
Dr. G.: No, I did not.

Cheney: Well, if I understand your testimony, the long and short of it is, you are confirming that despite the investigations, the toxicology, the anthropologists, all of these things, there is no scientific or medical evidence to establish the cause of this child's death, correct?
Dr. G.: The means of the homicide could not be determined.
Cheney: And you determined to call it a homicide as opposed to an accident or indetermined.
Dr. G.: The circumstances of death did not fit anything but a homicide (as Dr. G. ends her sentence, she looks at the jury and shook her head while saying 'anything but a homicide').
Cheney: The, the, the circumstances.
Dr. G.: That's the way the body was found...
Cheney: I know that!  And also what Detective Melich told you.
Dr. G:  Um.. I'm not, what part did Detective Melich tell me?  The part that the body wasn't reported for 31 days is what he told me...
Cheney: You learned these things from doctor,  from um Yuri Melich, the investigator.
Dr. G: That's our standard course of business
Cheney: And some of the things you learned from the media.
Dr. G: From you?
Cheney: The MEDIA.
Dr. G: Oh (chuckles) media. No, nothing from Media would have entered into my decision.
Cheney: Wouldn't have entered your MIND...?
Dr. G: Well I can't take anything that the media would say into a decision as grave as this.
Cheney: So, the bottom line is that when you say, and when you place a label "Homicide by indeterminate means" you're saying that the circumstances tell you that it's  probably was a homicide.
Dr. G: Not PROBABLY. I think that it is the only logical conclusion based on some of the scientific information we have, based on observational information we have about homicides and children dying.
What is the scientific information in this circumstance (he says with a smile on his face, as though he believes he's got her)

Dr. G: Well, we know that, and of course, observation is part of scientific studies, that's part of forensics, it's a big part of how we know our world.  We look at all the accidental drownings for instance, in my jurisdiction, we systematically went through those, 100% EMS is called immediately when the child is found.
Cheney: Well, that has nothing to do with this case, now does it.
Dr. G:  (getting a bit agitated): Oh NO...
ASHTON: OBJECTION. Argumentative!


Dr. G: (HERE WE GO):  It ABSOLUTELY has something to do with this case!  With every death I investigate, has to put into the circumstances of death. You can NEVER ever determine a manner of death, except in very rare instances, just on examining the body.  So we have to know, usually, how deaths occur. So we have to know, and there are scientific studies, and peer review literature about the red flags for homicide.

Cheney: I want to, I want to, object to this witness bolstering, and about studies. We don't have them.
(Dr. G. looks over at the judge)
(Cheney looks a bit red in the face and humbled as he waits for the judge's ruling)
Judge: Overruled (Cheney shrugs his shoulders and then looks at Dr. G.  A short pause happens, then Dr. G. realizes that she can continue, which she does).
Dr. G:  So, by my experience and what is know about how homicides occur, I felt that the preponderance of evidence, and that there was no other logical conclusion could be found, by not reporting for 30.., who has a legal, moral, and ethical obligation to care for that child, not reporting that child missing,  the fact that it's TOSSED in a field to ROT in bags is a clear indication that the body was trying to be HIDDEN, those... even being placed in a bag is a very BIG red flag for homicide, and NEVER SEEN IN AN ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF A CHILD.  And the fact that there's duct tape attached ANYWHERE to that child's face is, to me, an indication of a HOMICIDE. (Casey got really angry at this point during Dr. G.'s testimony).

Cheney: Let's back up. What about your circumstantial observations and deductions are scientific Ma'am?
Dr. G: The fact that we know 100% of the time, that accidental deaths are reported unless there's a good reason not to be.  We know that there is no REASON not to report.  In fact if you don't report an injury to authorities, you are risking that child's life, because we know that's partly behavioral science.  And we know that in ALL OF THE CASES that come through our morgue, that accidents are 100%, particularly with children, are reported unless there's a good reason not to.

Cheney: So you're trying to tell this jury (as he rests his elbow on the podium and looking like he's pontificating) that 100% that there's no way that this death could have been accidental?

Dr. G.: No, I said that 100% of the time, let's say on a systematic review of drownings, it's a more common way of accidents, that 100% of the time, when the person finds the child, they call 911, because there's a chance that that child might live.  They need to report that and give them a chance.

Cheney: And what if a person finds an obviously drowned body?  So obviously deceased, what then?  Is there some scientific things that you're, conclusions about their morality?
Dr. G: NO, but I'm looking at behaviors, systematic observational information that shows that no matter that no matter how stiff that body is, they always call 911 in the hopes that that child could be saved.  I'm looking at observational data on that kind of death.  That's what we use.

Cheney: So you're saying, your determination that circumstantial evidence is what causes you to conclude it must have been a homicide 'cause you can't explain it any other way (Cheney leans towards Dr. G. from the podium, staring at her).
Dr. G.: I explained to you the observational red flags that we know in forensics...
Cheney: You need to answer MY question.
Dr. G: I don't know, don't understand
Cheney: Your honor
ASTON: OBJECTION, to council interrupting the witness
CHENEY: I'll ask the court to instruct her to answer MY question with a Yes or No answer (Cheney smiles with satisfaction on his face).
Dr. G: Please repeat the question.
(We see Cheney shifting back and forth jokingly as the judge decides this answer)
JUDGE: SUSTAINED. It was an open-ended question, she may answer it (Cheney looks down in defeat).
(Judge Perry to Dr. G.): Doctor, did you finish answering the question?
Dr. G: I don't even remember what the question was.
Cheney: You see (chuckling)
Judge Perry: Let's have a new question.
Cheney: Arrugh.. The bottom line is, let's just make it simple, the cause of death you don't know,  the manner you say is based on circumstantial evidence, you conclude is a homicide for the reasons you told us.
Dr. G.: I felt that the manner of death, although the cause of death is homicide of undetermined means, I felt the means were unable to be substantiated scientifically, but I felt the manner of death was defensible scientifically based on systematic observational studies. (Casey looks really worried here).
Cheney: Ok, observational studies of other things (waves his arm around), of other cases.
Dr. G:  Of how homicides occur, how accidents occur, how natural deaths occur, yes.
Cheney: Other cases.
Dr. G: Other cases.
Cheney: Ok.  Now by the way, if these remains had been found four or five months before, would you have had a better answer based of scientific evidence?
Dr. G: (sighs) Absolutely!
Cheney: And incidentally you said something about duct tape.  Isn't it true from what you observed and  saw that if there was any duct tape, that it was only in the vicinity of the lower mandible?
Dr. G: That's correct.
Cheney: Yeah. May I have just a minute, your honor (Goes over to Jose at the defense table; they talk for 10 seconds)
Judge: You may.
(Casey looks concerned as she looks over at Cheney and Jose)
Cheney: Thank you ma'am.  I have no more questions.

Prosecutor Jeff Ashton came back up to do some Re-Direct questions of Dr. G., but he didn't have to do much.  The defense pretty much shot themselves in the foot with this expert witness.  He asked Dr. G. if she did her best to keep the body in the same condition as she could, leaving the roots and skull intact for the defense's examiner to look at, which Dr. G. said she did.

Ashton: Now, the absence of positive results of chloroform or other substances, does that as a matter medically exclude the acute use of those substances at or near the time of death?
Dr. G: We would not expect to find those in bones. That was a long shot trying to check for those, but I felt we would be amiss not to at least try.  We would not expect any of those to be positive in a set of bones, even if they were positive, at the time of death, even if it were present. (Casey still looks very concerned and is frowning).
Ashton:  Taking, for the purposes of my question, the following hypothetical, the following facts, assume that Caylee Anthony died and discarded on or about June 16th, of 2008, approximately six months before the body was found.
Dr. G.: Yes.
Ashton: At the stage that Mr. Mason was asking you about, four months earlier which would have been August, so the body's been out for two months, what would be the body's condition after two months? (Casey looks at Dr. G. with a sad, frowned look on her face).
Dr. G.: Well, it probably would have been skeletonized.  Certainly it would have been skeletonized by then.
So if the body had been found in August, would you have expected it to have been skeletonized with little soft tissue?
Dr. G.: Yes, yes, I would have expected it to have been skeletonized.
Ashton: What would you have expected the internal organs to be?
Dr. G.:  Completely gone (she says as she looks down). (Casey looks sad with a frown on her face still).
Ashton: Thank you.

Cheney: No recross, thank you.
Judge Perry: Doctor, you may be excused.

Several news reports are saying that Dr. G. has made the case for the Prosecution in convicting Casey Anthony of first degree murder.

After Dr. G., a software program developed by forensic anthropologist Michael Warren, that showed a photograph of Caylee smiling (with her mother Casey by her side) was super-imposed with the skull of Caylee, which was recovered at the scene, and then that was then super-imposed again with a piece of duct tape, showing how one piece of duct tape was sufficient to cause the death of Caylee.

As the video of this super-imposition played, Casey watched the entire video with a mad scowl look on her face.  Jose Baez argued that this video should not be played for the jury, citing that it would prejudicial against his client, Casey.

The video showed that one piece of tape did indeed fit over Caylee's nose and mouth, and could definitely have been the murder weapon that caused the death of Caylee.

Jose Baez called for a mistrial, but Judge Perry overruled his motion.

After reviewing the video and reading from law book, Judge Perry allowed this video to be played for the jury.  Although Casey watched the video with the angry scowl on her face, as soon as the jury re-entered the courtroom, Casey turned away from watching the video as it played for them and the courtroom.  She changed her appearance for the jury, from one of anger and scowling to one of a hurt mother who couldn't view the video.  Some reporters are saying that this is an example of how she is acting in front of the jury, but in truth is a cold, calculating monster who is not sad about her daughter but is sad about having been caught and that so many people are trying to convict her of murdering Caylee.

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