Trial Transcripts

July 27, 1979

Michael Newman (Physician's Assistant)

F U R T H E R  P R O C E E D I N G S  9:00

THIS CAUSE came on for further trial before The Honorable Franklin T. Dupree, Jr., United States Chief District Judge, and a jury, on Friday, July 27, 1979, at Raleigh, North Carolina.

(The following proceedings were held in the presence of the jury and alternates.)

THE COURT:  Good morning, ladies and gentlemen.  Any further evidence for the Government in this case?

MR. BLACKBURN:  Yes, sir.

THE COURT:  Call your witness.

MR. BLACKBURN:  Your Honor, we call Michael Newman.

(Whereupon, MICHAEL DOUGLAS NEWMAN was called as a witness, duly sworn, and testified as follows:)

D I R E C T  E X A M I N A T I O N  9:01 a.m.

Q  Please state your name?
A  Michael Douglas Newman.
Q  Mr. Newman, if you would, sir, speak loudly enough so everyone can hear you.  Where do you presently live, Mr. Newman?
A  I am currently residing in Fayetteville.
Q  Where are you employed?
A  I am stationed at Womack Army Hospital, Fort Bragg.
Q  In what capacity do you work there?
A  I am now a Physician's Assistant.
Q  How long have you been a Physician's Assistant?
A  About four and a half years.
Q  Would you tell us briefly, sir, what that is?
A  Well, I am a highly-skilled technician.  I work very closely with the doctor.  I do triage on patients, follow-up care on chronic long-term patients.  I take care of a lot of minor illnesses and injuries.
Q  Now, directing your attention to February of 1970, where were you employed?
A  I was currently working in the emergency room as a Senior Clinical Technician at Womack Army Hospital.
Q  And how long had you been working there?
A  For approximately nine and a half months at that time.
Q  Where had you been prior to that time?
A  Prior to that, I had been in Vietnam with a clearing company.
Q  What did you do while you were in Vietnam?
A  I worked in the triage section -- the clearing company.  We were with the First Cavalry Division.  We received casualties straight from the field.  We did rapid treatment, resuscitation.
Q  Can you explain to the jury what you mean by the term "triage"?
A  We did an evaluation of the -- evaluations on the patients.  The ones that we took care of, we took care of; and if we could not, we transferred them on out to hospitals.
Q  Now, directing your attention to the 17th of February, 1970, did you have an occasion to be on duty that day?
A  Yes, sir; I was.
Q  And do you recall the time period around 4:00 or 4:30 on the early morning of the 17th?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Did you have an occasion, as a result of your responsibilities in the emergency room, to see the Defendant, Jeffrey MacDonald?
A  Yes, sir; I did.
Q  When did you first see him?
A  As he was brought in from the ambulance to the emergency room.  It was sometime between 4:00 and 4:30 that morning.
Q  Now, where were you when you first saw him?
A  I was inside the emergency room itself.
Q  How did Dr. MacDonald come into the emergency room?
A  He came in on a litter, and he was brought in by our ambulance there from the hospital.
Q  Was he laying down or sitting up?
A  He was laying down on the stretcher.
Q  Was he uncovered or was he covered?
A  I believe he had a sheet over him when he came in.
Q  Now, when he came into the hospital, where was he taken?
A  He was immediately taken around towards the treatment room.  We have a little area off the treatment room called the crash room.  He was taken into the crash room.
Q  Where were you during this time?
A  I was with him.
Q  Besides yourself, once he went into the crash room, who else was with him?
A  There were two corpsmen working with me that night.  There was also a nurse, and I believe the night supervisor came down and went in with us then.
Q  Now, what did you do, if anything, once he came into the crash room, sir?
A  Well, he was initially brought in.  He was transferred over to the litter in the crash room, and we checked him out for wounds, took vital signs on him and got him ready for the doctor.  I believe the doctor came in very shortly after we carried him into the crash room.
Q  Approximately how long were you with him before a doctor came in, if you can recall?
A  Probably no more than four to five minutes before the doctor was in there with him.
Q  If you would, sir, tell us, if you can recall what his vital signs were?
A  I cannot recall the exact figures on his blood pressure.  As I recall, though, it was stable and his pulse rate was also stable.  I don't remember the exact numbers.
Q  Now, you say you checked him out for wounds; is that correct?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  What exactly did you do?
A  On the initial exam that I did on him, I saw three wounds on him.  There was one on the upper left arm, one on the right chest --
Q  (Interposing)  Excuse me; would you point to the location on your own body where you saw these?
A  Somewhere in this area there was one wound (indicating).  There was one on the right chest and one on the upper left abdomen, right at the border of the thorax.
Q  Okay; stand up if you would.  Where was the third wound?
A  The third wound was somewhere on the right chest.
Q  With respect to the wound on the left arm, how would you describe that wound, sir?
A  In my opinion, it was a superficial laceration.
Q  What, if anything, did you do to treat that wound?
A  The only thing that I did to those were to wash them up.  Now, the one that was on his chest, I did place a Vaseline gauze pad over it.
Q  Which one?
A  The one on the right chest.
Q  How large an area did that wound cover, if you recall, sir?
A  As I recall, it was just a small laceration there on the chest, perhaps an inch long.  I really don't recall the exact length of it.
Q  What treatment, if any, did you do to the third wound that you mentioned this morning?
A  As I recall, the only thing I did to it was clean it up.  He also had an abrasion on the left forehead, I believe, and there was a lump there; and I cleaned it up, washed his face down.
Q  Was that lump bleeding or non-bleeding?
A  No; there was a little bit of fluid was seeping from it.  It was not bleeding.
Q  Was the skin broken or unbroken?
A  Yes, sir; the skin was broken.
Q  Now, Mr. Newman, during the time that you worked in the emergency room prior to this date, and when you were in Vietnam, have you ever had an occasion to see wounds or puncture wounds that were caused by an ice pick, or could have been caused by an ice pick?
A  Very probably; I had put a lot of time in the emergency room, and we used to get a lot of stabbing injuries in.
Q  How many ice pick wounds did you observe on the Defendant Jeffrey MacDonald?
A  I did not see any ice pick wounds.
Q  During this four or five minute period, what, if anything, did you say to the Defendant?
A  I did not say anything during the first few minutes he was there.
Q  What, if anything, did he say to you?
A  Well, he was talking about what had happened there to the family, and I don't recall whether any of the CID people were in there or not; but he was talking about what had happened, and he was asking how his wife and children were.
Q  What did you say in response?
A  Well, I told him that they were all right, if I recall.  I did not tell him that they were dead at the time.  We had already been informed that they were dead.
Q  Now, you say that the doctors came in four to five minutes after you were with him; is that correct?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Which doctors are you referring to, if you recall?
A  Sir, I really don't remember which doctor was there in the emergency room that night.
Q  Well, how many doctors came in?
A  Initially there was one, and then the surgeon was called down and there were two doctors there; and I don't recall whether it was Dr. Straub or Dr. Jacobson that came down first.
Q  Okay; after whichever doctor came in first, did you stay there while the doctor was there?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  And how long did Dr. MacDonald remain in the crash room?
A  I believe he stayed in there probably between 15 and 30 minutes before we carried him over to x-ray.
Q  How was the Defendant Jeffrey MacDonald dressed during this time?
A  When he initially came in, he had on a pair of pajama pants, which were taken off of him immediately after he got there so that he could be checked out for further wounds on the lower extremities.  Other than that he had on nothing.
Q  Did you observe his entire body?
A  Yes, sir; I very quickly looked over him to see if there were any other wounds on him.
Q  How many wounds did you observe on his back area?
A  I did not see any on his back.
Q  Now after one of the doctors returned or came to the crash room, what, if anything, did you observe occur?
A  Beg your pardon, sir?
Q  What happened after the doctor came to the crash room?
A  The doctor came in and he did an examination on him and ordered the chest films.
Q  When you speak of chest films, what do you mean?
A  He was sent over to x-ray for x-rays of his chest.  
Q  Was that in regard to any particular wound?
A  Probably the one on his right chest.
Q  Did you go over to x-rays with him?
A  Yes, sir, I did go over to x-ray with him.
Q  How long did that take?
A  I think he was over there probably about 10 to 15 minutes.  I left the x-ray, went back over to the emergency room and got some syringes and test tubes to draw off some blood for some further lab tests that the doctor wanted to get.
Q  After he returned from x-rays, what happened?
A  He was sent upstairs to the ward.
Q  Did you go with him up to the ward?
A  Yes, sir, I did go up to the ward with him.
Q  Now, during any of this conversation with the defendant, that he had in the crash room, did he make any statements as to who he thought had done these things to him?
A  Yes, sir, he did.
Q  Would you please state to the jury what he said?
A  He said that there was a white woman, two black males, and one white male.  The woman was stating, "Acid is groovy; kill the pigs."  He continued to ask how the wife and children were, and he also asked why would they do that to his wife, that she had never hurt anyone.
Q  Now, during this time that you examined or were around Dr. MacDonald in the crash room, were you able to examine or observe his breathing?
A  Yes, sir.  While I was washing off his face, he started to breathe a little bit rapidly, and I told him to slow it down and he did.
Q  Now, when he was taken over to x-ray, how did he go over to x-ray? Was he carried or did he walk or what?
A  He went over by litter.  
Q  Was he lying down or sitting up?
A  Yes, sir, he was laying (sic) flat.  
Q  When you took him up to the ward was he still on the litter?
A  Yes, sir, he was.  
Q  And he was lying down at that time?
A  Yes, sir.  
Q  During your experience in the emergency room and in Vietnam prior to that time, have you ever had occasion to observe individuals who have been in physical shock?
A  Yes, sir, I have.
Q  Do you have an opinion, sir, satisfactory to yourself as to whether or not the Defendant, Jeffrey MacDonald, was in physical shock at that time?
A  I did not consider him to be in shock.
Q  What were the conditions of his eyes, if you can recall, sir?
A  Sir, I really don't remember.  I can't give a clear statement on that.
Q  Now, do you recall who the doctor was who was going up to the surgical ward?
A  I believe it was Dr. Jacobson.
Q  And where were you when this was going on?
A  I was helping transport the litter up to the ward with him.
Q  Do you recall whether or not any conversation within your hearing ability between Dr. Jacobson and the Defendant took place?
A  Yes, sir, he and Dr. Jacobson were talking about the possibility of putting in a chest tube.  They were also talking about a kid that they had both worked on some time prior in the emergency room, that had had to have some chest tubes put.
Q  Do you recall any names that they were speaking about?
A  No, sir, it was a kid who had been on a bad LSD trip, and he had gotten away from the staff and gone up to the ninth floor and he jumped out the ninth floor window.  He landed on top of the laboratory, was brought into the emergency room, and was worked on there.  The kid did not live very long.  I understand that Dr. MacDonald and Dr. Straub had both worked on him and -- in the emergency room.
Q  In overhearing this conversation, did you have an occasion to hear what treatment, if any, was given to this young man?
A  Well, they had had to put chest tubes into this young man, and Dr. MacDonald was a little apprehensive about having a chest tube put into himself.

MR. BLACKBURN:  Just one second, Your Honor.


MR. BLACKBURN:  Your Honor, that will complete our direct examination.  The Defense may cross-examine.

THE COURT:  Very well.

C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N  (9:16 a.m.)

Q  Mr. Newman, you testified at the Article 32 proceedings in this matter, did you not?
A  Yes, sir, I did.
Q  And the information which you have given us today is basically the same information you gave to the Article 32 proceedings?
A  Yes, sir, I believe so.
Q  You also testified at the grand jury, did you not?
A  Yes, sir, I did.
Q  Now, I believe you testified to the grand jury that Dr. MacDonald was very cooperative with you, is that correct?
A  Yes, sir, he was.
Q  He was cooperative in all ways with you?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  In other words, he did each thing you asked him to do?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  You have also said from time to time in your testimony that he was excited, is that correct?
A  Yes, sir, he was somewhat excited and concerned about his wife and children.
Q  Have you ever told anyone that he was hysterical about his wife and children?
A  Sir, I really don't recall; if he did get hysterical, it was calmed very quickly.
Q  All right.  Do you remember any moments which you would describe as hysteria on the part of Dr. MacDonald about his family, about his whole situation?
A  The only time was when I was washing his face down.  He became a little bit excited, his breathing started to get a little more rapid.  I asked him to slow it down and he did.
Q  You, I think, have described that at least in one proceeding as hyperventilation, is that correct?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  What is hyperventilation?
A  Hyperventilation is a rapid, shallow breathing.
Q  And is that what Dr. MacDonald was doing?
A  He started into it, and I asked him to slow his breathing down, which he immediately did.
Q  All right.  Would you say that based on the conversations you had with Dr. MacDonald -- the things that he was talking about -- would you say that his predominant concern at that time was about his family and not about himself?
A  Yes, sir, he was very concerned about his wife and children.
Q  What was he saying about his wife and children?
A  He was asking if they were all right.  He was very concerned about his wife.  He stated that she really looked bad, that he had pulled a knife out of her chest, and he could not feel a pulse, and he was very concerned about her well-being.
Q  And did he express to you statements which caused you to believe he did not know they were dead, is that true?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  And at that moment you knew they were dead, didn't you?
A  Yes, sir, we had been informed before he arrived that the rest of the family was dead.
Q  Had there been a decision made on your part and on the part of others in the emergency room not to tell him about the deaths?
A  Sir, that would have been up the doctor.  It was not my responsibility to tell him.
Q  Had you been told not to tell him?
A  No, sir, I do not recall that I had been.
Q  Did you just make a decision on your own not to tell him, or was that part of the protocol of the emergency room?
A  Sir, it is usually up to the doctor to inform the patient about a death.
Q  Were there moments when Dr. MacDonald was in your presence when he expressed to you pain?
A  Sir, I don't recall.
Q  Were you present when the chest tube was inserted?
A  No, sir, I was not.
Q  But you were present when discussion was had with Dr. MacDonald about the chest tube?
A  He and Dr. Jacobson were talking about it as we were waiting for the elevator to go upstairs.
Q  In any of the discussions with Dr. MacDonald or in any statements that he made, did he ever use the word "hippie"?
A  Sir, I really don't recall.
Q  You don't recall his using that word?
A  No, sir, I do not.
Q  You do recall his telling you about the events that he said had taken place in his home?
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Now, I believe that you have testified in previous proceedings that there was blood around Dr. MacDonald's mouth, is that correct?
A  There was blood on his face, sir.
Q  What parts of his face, if you recall?
A  If I recall correctly, it was on his forehead and I believe there was some smeared on the cheeks.
Q  On both cheeks?
A  Sir, I really don't recall about the cheeks.  I think there was some smeared on the cheeks.  It appeared the blood had been smeared with his hands.  His hands were also bloody.
Q  Mr. Newman, unfortunately, the pajama bottoms were thrown away; weren't they?
A  Yes, sir; they were.
Q  I know that you regret that.  Would you describe the pajama bottoms as you last remember seeing them?
A  Sir, as I recall, there was blood on the pajama bottoms.  The inseam of the pajama bottoms was ripped out from about mid-thigh all the way across.  I was the one who went ahead and threw them away, and when we started cleaning up, the CID had been there and everybody else had been around, and no one had picked them up.  They were left in the crash room, and I picked them up and threw them away.
Q  You assumed, I take it, that if anyone had wanted them at that point, something would have been done to preserve them or store them.
A  Yes, sir.
Q  Were they just tossed in the trash basket or what happened to them?
A  Yes, sir; they were thrown into the garbage can.
Q  Do you know whether any effort was made to retrieve them?
A  Sir, I really don't know.
Q  Do you know whether any sample was taken or any cutting was taken from the pajamas of any blood on the pajama bottoms?
A  I really don't believe there was because they were thrown on the floor there in the crash room and I don't think anyone bothered them until they were picked up and thrown out.
Q  Do you know how long Dr. MacDonald was in the hospital recuperating?
A  No, sir; I really don't know exactly.
Q  How many times did you take his blood pressure or his temperature?
A  I really don't recall whether I took his blood pressure or not.  I had two corpsmen working with me that night, and I don't recall who took the blood pressures and I don't recall how many times it was taken.
Q  Do you remember what it was?
A  No, sir; I have no idea.
Q  Do you know whether anybody did ever check his eyes for dilation of the pupils?
A  I am sure they must have been.  The doctor went over him.  That is usually a part of the exam.

MR. SMITH:  No further questions, Your Honor.

THE COURT:  Any re-direct?

MR. BLACKBURN:  No, sir, Your Honor.