December 11, 1974
Testimony of Dr. Russell Fisher (Chief Medical Examiner)
Scans of original transcript
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
EASTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA
GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION
IN THE MATTER OF:
|THE DEATHS OF||COLETTE MACDONALD,|
|KIMBERLY MACDONALD, and|
Samuel S. Epperson, Foreman of the Grand Jury, Presiding
|For the United States Government:|
|Victor Woerheide, Department of Justice|
|James T. Stroud, Asst. U. S. Attorney|
WITNESS: DR. RUSSELL FISHER
December 11, 1974
L I S T O F E X H I B I T S
|EXHIBIT NO.||TITLE||PAGE NO.|
|Fisher #1||Xeroxed copy of Dr. Russell||42|
|Fisher's original report.|
I, Mary M. Ritchie, being a Notary Public in and for the State of North Carolina was appointed to take the testimony of the following witness, DR. RUSSELL FISHER, before the Grand Jury, Raleigh, North Carolina, commencing on December 11, 1974. All Grand Jurors present.
Whereupon, DR. RUSSELL FISHER, having first been duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:
EXAMINATION BY MR. WOERHEIDE:
Q Will you state your full name, please, sir?
A Yes. Dr. Russell Fisher.
Q Where do you live, sir?
A Baltimore, Maryland.
Q Can you give us a street address?
A My office address is 111 Penn Street.
Q And what position do you hold?
A I'm Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland.
Q Is your home address in Baltimore, too, sir?
A It's in Anne Arundel County. The address is Rural Route No. 2, Box 170-A, Crownsville, Maryland.
Q What's your employment at this time, sir?
A Well, I'm Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland and Professor of Forensic Pathology at the University of Maryland Medical School. I lecture in Forensic Pathology in Johns Hopkins Medical School.
Q Now, did you hold those positions in -- back in June of 1970?
Q Do you recall being consulted at that time and in your official capacity in connection with a murder investigation, involving one, Jeffrey R. MacDonald, and his family who were killed -- Colette MacDonald, Kimberly MacDonald and Kristen MacDonald?
A Yes, sir.
Q Well, will you tell us what happened at that time? Who did you meet with? What materials were made available to you? What examinations did you make, if any; and what conclusions you arrived at?
A I came to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, as a result of authorization by Colonel Robert Kriwanek; and, with members of the Criminal Investigation Division, reviewed the autopsy protocols and the autopsy reports in the case of Colette MacDonald, Kimberly MacDonald, Kristen MacDonald.
I had available a series of reports from the Criminal Investigation Laboratory at Ft. Georgia -- Ft. Gordon in Georgia, describing findings on various specimens removed from the MacDonald apartment. I had available the clinical record, dated -- or beginning 17 February, 1970, in the case of Dr. MacDonald, made at the Womack Army Hospital.
I had a series of photographs of the three victims which were included with the autopsy protocol and others of the interior of the home of the MacDonald family. I did go to and examine the home in the presence of members of the Army CID. I had available some statements taken from the personnel who removed the bodies from the home, and by that I mean Dr. Neal who saw the bodies. And I subsequently talked to Drs. Gemma, Hancock -- these were the two pathologists who had done the autopsies -- Dr. Neal, who is the doctor who had gone to the home and determined the death of the three persons and had caused Dr. MacDonald to be sent to the hospital; Dr. Bronstein, Dr. Jacobson, Dr. Straub, and Dr. Gemma, who had seen the doctor during his stay in the hospital on the day of and after the deaths of his family. I think that is the major amount of information I had available.
Q All right. Well, I take it you weren't able to personally examine Dr. MacDonald at the time; but you later testified at the Article 32 hearings, didn't you, Dr. Fisher?
A Yes, I did. That was the first time I saw Dr. MacDonald.
Q And you saw him at that time, I take it?
A Yes, sir.
Q I'm just showing you some photographs here. You can recognize them. This person is the individual that you saw at that time as Dr. MacDonald?
A Yes, this is Dr. MacDonald.
Q And the photographs reveal certain injuries that are on his chest?
A I see in these photographs, which I examined earlier today, certain scars which were related to me then as being associated with the wounds he had received at or about the time of the deaths of his family.
Q What sort of an evaluation were you asked to make at that time, Dr. Fisher?
A Well, several. One, with respect to the wounds that Dr. MacDonald had -- as to their seriousness, their significance, how they most probably were sustained, and what were the possibilities against the background of the statement that he had made, with respect to what had happened in the house that night.
Q So, I take it, the various possibilities you considered were that there were intruders who entered his home and assaulted him?
A Yes, sir.
Q The wounds possibly might have been sustained in a struggle, perhaps, with his wife?
A That's correct.
Q Or the wounds might have been self-inflicted?
A That is the third possibility.
Q All right, now, will you tell us what your conclusions were and the bases for those conclusions?
A Well, the first conclusion, with respect to the likelihood that the wounds were sustained as a result of homicidally directed individuals who killed his wife and two children -- and the conclusion I reached is that this just didn't make good sense.
He had a description of an impact to the left forehead, a bruise. He had a superficial cut in the left upper abdomen, which went through the skin, but not into the underlying muscle. He had a stab wound in the right chest which had, indeed -- well, the other stab wound in the right chest, which was represented by the scar less than half an inch or about half an inch long. And he did have a pneumothorax. One assumes the collapse of his lung was associated with that stab wound, since one saw no other holes in his chest.
He had a cut -- or two small cuts in his left arm. Described in the hospital record were four other small puncture wounds in the left chest.
Q Are they described as being superficial?
A They were described as being superficial -- just little round holes in the skin which penetrated no further and which required no medical treatment in the hospital.
The entire medical treatment in the hospital was the application of a bandage to the wound on his arm, another to the wound on his abdomen, plus the treatment of his collapsed lung, which, of course, did require surgical intubation.
But the nature of the wounds of the three victims -- the multiplicity of stab wounds, the extreme violence indicated not only by number of wounds, but by the blunt injuries to the head of both Kimberly and Colette MacDonald, and the blunt injuries to the body of Mrs. MacDonald -- these three extremely violent situations are totally out of keeping with the injuries sustained by a man who was in the house and who normally would have been expected to be, indeed, assaulted and killed at the same time. To simply assume that he was rendered unconscious by a blow, and had a couple or three superficial injuries, and then was simply left at this point -- it just boggles my imagination to accept this as a reasonable -- I say reasonable, as in anticipated unreasonable behavior of the homicidal maniacs who were there. But I just can't buy it. So, the probability that these wounds were inflicted by the assailants that are described -- it's just very difficult for me to believe, even though I've been in this field of forensic pathology now for twenty-eight years; and I've seen a great deal of violence under a great many different circumstances.
With respect to the possibility that they may have been inflicted in an altercation with Mrs. MacDonald, of course, with the obvious size and the strength of the doctor and the lesser size of his wife, although she was a good-sized woman, it's possible for me to believe that in a struggle over a knife that he might have sustained these injuries, if the two were indeed struggling over possession of the knife. That's about all I can say to that extent.
Q Now, the key question is, could these wounds, in your opinion, all be self-inflicted wounds?
A There's nothing about any one of them, nor the totality of them, that could not have been self-inflicted.
Q Dr. Fisher, pneumothorax conditions are not particularly uncommon, are they?
A Well --
Q When I say "uncommon" -- let me ask you this question now. In the past, in treating diseases of the body such as tuberculosis, for example, has it been medical practice to induce a pneumothorax?
A Yes, indeed. Before the days when we had drugs that were effective in the control of tuberculosis, when lung cavitation would occur, we had to collapse that lung. And it was much simpler to collapse a lung by putting air in the chest cavity than to cut out the ribs and do this extensive surgical procedure. So the treatment of cavitary tuberculosis -- this goes up to my day; because when I was a resident in medicine at Fort Hospital in 1943 or '44, we were still treating tuberculosis that way. And I personally cared for quite a number of patients during a period of months in which we put air in their chest three times a week to collapse the lung and keep it collapsed so that the cavity would heal and scar down and the disease abate. So -- it isn't used much any more. Fortunately, they have drugs --
Q But it's a known medical procedure that has been used in the past?
A Yes, an established medical procedure.
Q Now, if you wished to induce a pneumothorax under controlled conditions, how would you proceed, sir?
A I would -- in a patient I would be inclined, obviously, to use some type of anesthetic to just deaden the skin a little bit. And then I'd make a little nick in the skin, and I'd push a needle through that hole. I'd stick it in the chest, connected to something to measure the amount of air that went in; because I would like to control it. But, actually, this is what we did, of course, in our pneumothorax patients.
Q All right, now, could you take a hypodermic needle, an empty hypodermic needle, and inject a controlled amount of air through an incision into the pleural cavity and thereby induce a pneumothorax?
A Certainly this could be done. As a matter of fact, all one needs to do is to insert a sharp needle through the chest wall rapidly enough that it perforates the underlying lung before the lung can contract. And this will let air out from the lung itself into the cavity and collapses the cage.
We see the same thing not at all infrequently in people in vehicular accidents who get a rib fracture. The sharp end of the rib will tear the lung, and they'll have a collapsed lung. It's treated readily, if there's not too much fracturing, of course.
Q Could a doctor, with surgical training and working towards being a surgeon, inflict a pneumothorax on himself under controlled conditions that would not imperil or endanger his life?
A Oh, I think so. Certainly.
Q And from your observations with respect to Captain MacDonald, considering the point where the pneumothorax may have been made -- slightly below the nipple and the seventh intercostal space --
A The incision was in the chest wall -- the scar.
Q Could that have been done by him deliberately without endangering his life?
A Oh, in my judgment, yes, sir.
Q In other words, the way that pneumothorax was brought about -- if it was brought about deliberately -- was such that there was no immediate peril, let's say, of damage to the liver, or damage to the diaphragm, or something else?
A I wouldn't think so; no, sir. It was only -- the incision was just two inches below the nipple which puts it far enough up on the chest that despite the fact that the liver is behind the chest margin here -- it's above the rib margin -- it's still possible to make an incision there. And regardless of how the incision came about, in this case an incision was made there, and he did get a pneumothorax. And it was of no real consequence, other than that the lung continued to collapse; and they did put a tube in and treat him for it for a couple of days.
Q From the records that you reviewed of Dr. MacDonald's treatment in the hospital, the observations that were made concerning his vital signs, his blood pressure, his respiration, his temperature, his heartbeat, etc., was he ever in serious peril as a result of whatever happened on the night of February 17?
A No, sir, not in my judgment. He was at no time in significant peril, really. He did require treatment, but the treatment was simple and successful.
Q And there were no signs of neurological damage and only a few superficial marks on his body, plus this pneumothorax condition?
A Certainly nothing according to the records, nor did I elicit anything in talking to those physicians when I interviewed them.
Q Now, were you asked for your professional opinion with respect to the cause of death and the manner in which certain injuries were inflicted on Colette MacDonald, Kimberly MacDonald, and Kristen MacDonald?
A Yes, sir.
Q In this connection you examined the -- all the available photographs, I take it?
A Yes, sir. The photographs, plus the written report, plus directing certain questions to the two pathologists to make sure I clearly understood their written report.
Q And the written report would be the pathologists' report who performed the autopsy? And this was also accompanied by photographs that were made during the course of the autopsy?
A Yes, that's correct.
Q All right, now, what were your findings with respect to Colette MacDonald?
A Well, in respect to Colette MacDonald, I found that the evidence indicated that she had been beaten, that is to say had sustained multiple blows with a blunt weapon, a weapon which can be described while being blunt, in the sense it's not sharp, still had a sharp enough edge as one might see on -- sharper than this, for example -- a rather sharp edge.
Q Sort of a right-angle edge?
A Yes, which would break the skin when the impact struck it; and, indeed, where her arm was broken, there was quite a laceration in the skin overlying the arm.
Q Did she also have lacerations in the head area?
A She had a similar series of lacerations on the top of her head which had associated injuries within the head. And, let's see, she had injuries of bilateral fractures; that is, fractures in both forearms -- of the bones in both forearms and the multiple impacts to the top of the head.
She had, in addition, a number of stab wounds of the chest and lower neck. And some of these were clearly small, round, ice pick type wounds. Others were a small knife such as a paring knife.
Some of the ice pick wounds penetrated the chest cavity, but appeared to cause relatively little damage. They didn't go deeply into the lung as far as the description indicated.
The real cause of death, then, was the multiple knife stab wounds along with, of course, the damage to the head and extremities, caused by the beating. And I think it's difficult to separate the two; because I think both probably caused her death, although certainly independently either could have, if a little time had been allowed to go on.
The record indicated that she did not have any significant amount of drugs or alcohol in the body, so that these can be excluded as having any role in her death.
Q Now, can you tell me whether these stab wounds -- were you able to arrive at any conclusion as to how these stab wounds were made in the body? I'm referring to Colette.
A Well, they were made with a small knife that was apparently stabbed deeply into the body, because --
Q Were they directly straight down and into the body?
A They were generally perpendicular to the body, as stabbing with a knife rather than cutting.
Q They were not slashing wounds? They were just deep, penetrating, straight-in stab wounds? Is that correct, sir?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, tell us about Kimberly MacDonald.
Q Kimberly was the five-year-old girl. She also had both blunt injuries and stabbing injuries. The blunt injuries involved the right side of the face and skull with extensive fracturing of the skull, so that they were hard enough impacts to fracture the skull and all across the base and up into the top of it. And there were associated bruises and tears in the skin of the face overlying the areas of impact which were multiple in number.
Q With reference to them, were these wounds caused by a blunt instrument that would be comparable to the one that was used to inflict wounds on Colette MacDonald?
A They seemed to me to be capable of being inflicted with identical or the same weapon.
Q All right, sir; will you proceed?
A She also had multiple lacerated and penetrating stab wounds of the right side and the upper part of the neck -- the front of the neck -- some of which penetrated all the way through into the voice -- into the trachea, the windpipe, and the voice box -- and others of which were more cutting wounds which cut across the front of the neck and into the deep blood vessels there and caused extensive bleeding, both externally and internally, so that she had a lot of bleeding coming out of the nose and mouth, as well as external bleeding on the surface. Well, some of this bleeding from the nose and mouth may have been associated with the skull fracture. You can't tell which, of course.
Q Now, let me ask you this. Were these stab wounds on her body consistent with being -- stabbing with the same knife or type of knife as used to inflict stab wounds on Colette?
A Yes. The ones that were stab wounds appeared to be of about the same size and seemed to have penetrated quite as deeply as those in Colette, so that it was my opinion that they were entirely consistent with being inflicted with the same size and kind of knife.
Q Now, tell us about Kristen MacDonald.
Q Kristen was the younger girl. She died apparently as a result of multiple stab wounds of the front of her chest and the neck and the back of the chest.
She had wounds which penetrated into the left lung, into the heart, into the windpipe, into the thyroid gland which lies around the windpipe; and, in addition -- well, she had wounds from both the front and the back which penetrated into the chest, as I recall it. And, in addition, she had several small, round wounds on the front of her chest, sort of in a row along the right margin of the breastplate, which seemed consistent with a small, round weapon, such as an ice pick. They did not appear to be deeply penetrating wounds, but simply to go in for a short distance into the soft tissues.
These may have been postmortem wounds. They did not appear to have much hemorrhage around them, according to the description that I elicted.
Q Now, do you say you were briefed by people from the CID, in the laboratory? Did they, at the time of the briefing, indicate to you where certain physical evidence was located?
A Yes, sir; they did.
Q You also say you visited the premises. Now, as a result of the information that was furnished to you, were you able to arrive at any conclusions with respect to where certain actions took place in the MacDonald's apartment on the night of the murder?
A I believe we can -- I did arrive at certain conclusions with respect to at least some of the events that occurred there. Certain events could be reconstructed from the nature of the evidence, the location, and types of bloodstaining around the premises.
Q All right, will you tell us what your conclusions were?
A Well, at least one conclusions -- due to the presence of a bloodstain on the floor of the little girl's bedroom, Colette's bedroom --
Q That would be Kristen's bedroom.
A Kristen's bedroom, certainly -- indicated to me that Colette had been in that bedroom while bleeding externally at some stage of the game, because this was clearly a footprint; and it was her type blood, as she was the only one of the four people who had that Type A blood, so that the indication is that someone must have stepped in her blood to have made that footprint. I did not have information at the time that told me whose footprint it was, but the facts are, somebody stepped in her blood and stepped on the floor.
She was, of course, found dead, and from the amount of bleeding in the master bedroom, it appeared that this is where she sustained her final injuries. Because there was a disposition of blood that suggested that she had bled at least in part while right at the place where her body was found.
Kimberly, the older girl, sustained injuries, most probably a blunt impact to the head, while standing within or near the doorway of the east bedroom -- where the bedroom -- her bedroom led out into the hall right near the door to the master bedroom. There was bloodstaining there of her grouping. And it was splattered in a way that indicated that she had been struck, and blood had splattered from her at that point. She obviously had -- now the east bedroom is the master bedroom.
Q Is the master bedroom.
A So, she was somewhere within the doorway of that master bedroom when this blood was shed. She subsequently sustained -- she was still alive and bleeding while in the south bedroom -- her bedroom, where she was found dead.
And it would appear that at least some of her wounding, most likely the cutting and stabbing wounding, occurred there; because of the way blood had spurted from her body onto the wall adjacent to her bed.
With respect to Kristen, there was no -- I could make no conclusion that she sustained any injuries elsewhere than in her bed where she was found dead. I'm simply negative. There's obvious evidence that she was still alive and bleeding and injured in her bed. And I have no evidence to indicate that there was any more than that.
Q Now, were you provided with information concerning the fibers that were located in the apartment?
A Yes, sir; I was. And I saw most of, if not all, of these. There may have been some that had already been used up in the examinations. And the distribution of those was pointed out to me.
The significance of that to me was the fact that torn threads from Dr. MacDonald's pajama top were found on the carpet in the master bedroom in a location that was under the body of Colette when Dr. Neal examined her at the scene. This can be explained to me only by presumption that either the tearing of the pajama top occurred in that bedroom while she was still on her feet, or it was torn and dripping fibers on the floor where she subsequently collapsed and died.
The fact that there were similar fibers in the south bedroom is capable of two possible suggestions. One, that they dropped from Dr. MacDonald's pajama top, if he still wore it or had it on after it was torn and at a time when he went in to examine her body later, as he indicated that he did, although it was my understanding that he wasn't wearing a pajama top at that time. But this was not -- I couldn't make a decision on the point. At any rate, the other entirely reasonable explanation of those fibers being in Kimberly's bedroom is that she was moved from the master bedroom to the south bedroom by someone who was wearing this garment and, therefore, picked up some of the fibers herself.
The other piece of evidence that was at hand was a piece of wood which had been found outside of the house and which bore the blood type of -- two types: Type A, which was Colette's blood type; and Type AB, which was Kimberly's blood type. This certainly was the weapon which was used in beating both the mother and the little girl. It certainly was, in my judgment, compatible with being the weapon, based on the size and shape of the lacerations and bruises sustained by those two people.
Q Did you examine a knife at the time?
A There were two paring knives. One which was found -- stated to have been found near the wood outside of the house and another paring knife which was also found outside of the house.
Q I think one knife, Doctor, was found in the master bedroom.
A All right. At any rate, either of these two knives, in my judgment, or both, may have been used in inflicting stab wounds upon these three people. One was a little more rigid than the other. One would be inclined to think, because of the nature of some of the wounds, that, perhaps, it was the more rigid one. But I think they could have been done with the less rigid and somewhat duller knife if sufficient force were used in inflicting the wounds.
Q Did you make any examination or arrive at any determination with respect to the scene in the living room?
A The most interesting observation in the living room, to me, was that -- the one that seemed to lead me to a conclusion -- was the overturned coffee table in the living room, which was lying on its side. And at least one explanation that was offered was that it had been knocked over during Dr. MacDonald's struggle with an unknown intruder in his home.
The peculiar thing about that table was, it's a top-heavy table. And every time we shoved it over on purpose to try to get it to lie on its side, it rolled all the way over, so that I reached the conclusion that that table at one time had been erect and had been laid on its side in an effort to make it look as if there had been a struggle.
But the individual who did it wasn't aware of the fact that it didn't come that way naturally -- that you had to lay it on its side, or else it wouldn't be found that way. Because if you simply tipped it over, it went all the way over.
Q Did you make a number of attempts, using different degrees of force and different angles of thrust --
A (Interposing) Yes, I did.
Q -- with respect to that table?
A And any way I tried it, it kept turning over when it was on a rug floor.
Q Now, on the basis of the examination that you made back in June -- I think it was of 1970, or just at the end of May, 1970 -- with the information that was available at that time -- and I might say there's additional information at this time -- did you find any indication that the deaths of Colette, Kimberly, and Kristen were caused by a group of hippies?
A I found nothing that said to me that there were hippies present who caused this.
Q Did you find any indication that there was, let's say, a violent confrontation that took place in the master bedroom, involving Captain MacDonald on the one hand and his wife and Kimberly MacDonald on the other hand?
A Well, the presence of the bloodstains of Kimberly on the wall in the master bedroom, certainly indicated there was violence there, with the weapon striking her head. The extensive violence in the case of Colette, with the multiple fractures she had and the splattering of blood, again indicated a violent confrontation at that point. And the distribution of the threads under the body of Mrs. MacDonald seemed to me to be explained logically only by the fact that she had been on her feet when the pajamas were torn, which is logically a part of such a confrontation.
Q Was there any distribution of fibers that would have indicated any sort of a confrontation in the living room?
A No, sir.
Q I'm not going to ask you, Dr. Fisher, to tell us what did happen. But I'm going to ask you if this could be the story.
That Dr. MacDonald came into the bedroom sometime after two o'clock. Kimberly was in the bed with his wife -- that Kimberly had wet the bed -- that an argument was started, a dispute, between his wife and himself. His wife taunted him with a lack of competency and inadequacy. He, in a rage, reached for and found a club -- perhaps his wife may have raised a hairbrush to defend herself -- that in a fit of rage, he struck wildly, striking both his wife and his daughter, Kimberly. He then picked up Kimberly and took her into her bedroom. And while he was doing so, his wife, though injured and having been stunned, got up and went into the bedroom of Kristen, where she bled profusely.
And that MacDonald then went into Kristen's room, further assaulted his wife, carried her out, took her back to the master bedroom, laid on on the floor and inflicted stab wounds on her body.
A I see nothing in any of the information that I have studied that contradicts such a sequence of events. So, in my judgment, this is entirely possible.
Q It's a plausible explanation for what happened?
A An entirely plausible explanation.
Q This having done and -- I mean, this having occurred, assuming that this had occurred, could then Captain MacDonald have purposefully inflicted on his body the wounds that he had when he was taken to the hospital, have written the word "pig" on the headboard, have turned over the coffee table in the living room, and also have stabbed Kimberly and Kristen?
A In my judgment, this is certainly a possibility and a reasonable one at that.
Q Do you have a more reasonable explanation of what happened in the house?
A I do not.
EXAMINATION BY MR. STROUD:
Q I have a couple of things. If you were to go about inflicting an injury of this type that caused a pneumothorax upon yourself, would you use the aid of a mirror in order to locate the position in your body, being aware of anatomy, that would be less serious -- the place that would least likely cause serious damage? Would you use a mirror or would you look down at your chest and try to do it that way? That may sound like a weird question.
A Being a pathologist and pretty well acquainted with anatomy, I suspect I could do it without the mirror. On the other hand, there's nothing illogical about doing it in front of a mirror.
Q Would a mirror aid you more in locating a particular spot?
A It might be of some assistance to, as you feel, to be able to see, although I can still see the front of my chest fairly well.
Q All right. Let me ask you this. In connection with the question some jurists have raised -- and I would like for you to explain it to them, if you can. You're certainly the man to do it, with your experience and background.
Using a hypothetical situation, not any particular individual at this point, if one partakes of drugs, say, LSD or heroin, marijuana, the drugs of abuse that are being abused so freely today, and were to die, in an autopsy, how long after taking the drugs would the drugs -- presence of drugs still show up in an autopsy?
A It depends upon the drug. With heroin, one may not be able to find heroin injected in the body, unless one finds it at the injection site, until thirty minutes or an hour after it's injected. It's so diluted throughout the blood that it's not found in the ordinary toxicologic routine available in the 1970 era. But, within the hour, it appears in the urine and bile and remains there for at least twenty-four hours, so that it's readily demonstrable after about an hour after it's taken.
With most of the other drugs of abuse, except for the LSD family which we'll treat separately, it can be found in the blood and/or urine forthwith, within minutes, and remains there for up to twenty-four or more hours.
In the case of LSD, at least within the time frame when these events occurred -- there are some newer methods today -- LSD would not be demonstrable, either in urine or elsewhere in the body within a matter of literally minutes, at the most, after it's taken. It disappears -- in fact, it's destroyed and changed over to different kinds of what we call metabolites or degradation products, which can by present-day techniques be found but weren't -- these techniques weren't available to us four years ago.
Q So, to summarize what you're saying, if one takes LSD and shortly thereafter dies, it would not necessarily be discernible in the body.
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Q Thank you. I have no further questions.
JUROR: Four years ago, what would have been a likely method of using LSD? How would it have --
A LSD has always and is still taken by mouth. Very little of it is injected.
JUROR: But is it -- then is it just straight, or is it mixed with something, or on a cube of sugar, or --
A The classic method has always been, and I understand still is, on a cube of sugar. And it's absorbed then very rapidly and goes to the brain where it exerts its effect in poisoning the chemical system up there -- the enzymes -- and then it's destroyed. And while by-products may be found in the urine some time later, the effects are done then. The road's already dug up, and there's going to be a rough road for a good many hours until the body restores it to its normal smooth functioning chemical system.
JUROR: I've got a question. Dr. Fisher, when you all made your tests on the coffee table, did you do it exactly like it was in the house before? Did you use the same layout?
A We did it right there in the house.
JUROR: Did you have the magazines as a cushion on the floor?
A The magazines at that time had been removed so that it didn't fall --
JUROR: The magazines had not been removed?
A Had been removed.
JUROR: I was thinking about the magazines being on the floor would act as a crutch. It fell and fell on the magazines. It didn't fall on the floor. Did you pallet it just like it was? In other words, this would give you -- the magazines give you, say, three inches off the floor that it would pallet. Did you do that?
A I don't believe we put pallets under; but I
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A I think that information ought to come from the direct records of the investigation. I did not make the blood grouping tests on the knives.
MR. WOERHEIDE: We will have two witnesses who can testify who can answer your question.
FOREMAN: I would like to -- you intrigued me on one thing and that's when you said LSD is absorbed, and it goes up the brain and then it starts working on the brain enzymes and chemicals. Once it is, as you say, used up, does it leave any discernible, traceable evidence on the brain, or in the brain, or in any way that you can trace if a person has taken it?
A Unfortunately, although the evidence that it poisons an enzyme system is pretty good, by the time a body is dead and one gets to the tissue to examine it, the enzyme system is also out of whack, so that we don't have a way of doing a test on fresh enough tissue to reveal that the enzyme system has been poisoned by LSD. So the answer is no. There's no way we can currently prove this, other than indirectly by animal experiments and functions, etc. We know that this is how it starts, but we can't demonstrate it in a given case, postmortally. Present procedures do allow the demonstration of some by-products in the urine, showing that LSD did at some time previously get into the body.
JUROR: I have one. I know that two o'clock has come up quite often, but was there a time -- and I know the temperature and all, that has something to do with how long a body has been dead or that you can tell how long a body has been dead, but was a time fix put on that for those three bodies?
A Well, I talked to the pathologists and to Dr. Neal about this situation. And about the only information that was available was that no accurate observations were made on either of the children's body temperatures; thatis, Dr. Neal didn't even remember feeling them as to whether they were warm or cooled out, nor did he recall exactly the posture of the clothing with respect to the body. So they had little information there.
With respect to Colette, he did take note of the fact that the body felt cool at the time he arrived there. So, one has to conclude that she had, indeed, been dead and lying with portions of her body exposed for a measurable period of time.
It's difficult for me to say what he meant when he said "cool." Ordinarily, if I use the expression, I mean the body's been dead an hour or more, because it takes that long for them to get appreciably cooler than my ordinarily cool hands. This is the only information we have on it, to my knowledge.
Certainly no observations made at nine o'clock the next morning would have been meaningful by the time the bodies were at the hospital.
FOREMAN: Anyone else?
JUROR: I have one.
MR. WOERHEIDE: I have a written report submitted by Dr. Fisher, and I'll have this marked as Fisher Exhibit 1.
(FISHER EXHIBIT #1 MARKED FOR IDENTIFICATION)
Q (By Mr. Woerheide) You recognize this as your report, Dr. Fisher?
A Yes. That's a Xeroxed copy of my copy of my original report. That's my signature.
FOREMAN: Do you have a question?
JUROR: Yes. Any of the studies that you made, did they indicate which of the injuries were sustained first?
A With respect to Colette, it would be my opinion that the totality of the stab wounds would have caused her collapse, and she could not have stayed on her feet more than a very limited period of time after these stab wounds were inflicted. And, in fact, it appeared from the way of their disposition that she probably was lying down when they were inflicted. Now, the blows in the different postures on her arms, on the top of the head, suggest that at least some of these were inflicted when she was still on her feet. It would be more difficult to strike a person on the top of the head if their head was down on the carpeting
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FOREMAN: Thank you very much, Doctor.