The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site is a compendium of information about the Jeffrey MacDonald case. MacDonald was convicted in 1979 of the murders of his pregnant wife and two small daughters. He is serving three life sentences for that brutal crime.


The Murders of Colette, Kimberley and Kristen MacDonald
 

The Jeffrey MacDonald Information Site

ARTICLE 32 HEARING TRANSCRIPTS
July 16, 1970: Major George Gammel (Pathologist)

 

(The hearing reconvened at 0847 hours, 16 July 1970.)

COL ROCK: This hearing will come to order. Let the record reflect that counsel for the accused, and counsel for the government are present, with the exception of Captain Thompson, counsel for the government.
At this time I have two items, I'd like to mention. First, I hand you herewith the testimony of Specialist Four Kenneth C. Mica, the transcript copy, a copy to the government and a copy to the accused. At this time I would also like to inquire as to what information the government has been able to acquire reference the request for photographs of valid fingerprints, the issue that we were discussing at the time we closed.

CPT SOMERS: Sir, the government has acquired, through the use of Mr. Medlin's note at Fort Gordon, the necessary information and has a complete list of the location -- by location I mean the measurement in feet and inches from observable marks or observable position in the house -- of each of the fingerprints listed and will have this available for the investigating officer this afternoon.

COL ROCK: This will be in a diagrammatic form, I assume.

CPT SOMERS: Sir, this is in a form of a list with a description of the location of each fingerprint in feet and inches from --

COL ROCK: From this, can a simple diagram be made that would be of use? I believe it would be useful to all of us frankly.

CPT SOMERS: Yes, sir, I can have that done, but it will take a draftsman some time to do it. In the meantime I can provide the descriptions as I have them.

COL ROCK: All right, fine.

MR. EISMAN: I again renew my request to be provided with photographs of these fingerprints. There's no -- they have the negatives. All it means is running an extra copy of the prints for the investigating officer and the defense counsel so that we may validate any diagram eventually made.

COL ROCK: At my ruling the other day, I decided upon either/or, with the diagram being preferable for purposes since we are not in the game of attempting to identify these particular photographs per se. Your current request is overruled. Proceed, counselor.

CPT SOMERS: The government calls Major Gammel.

(Major George E. Gammel was called as a witness by the government, was sworn, and testified as followed.)

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q Would you state your name, please?
A George E. Gammel.
Q Your grade?
A Major.
Q Your organization?
A Womack Army Hospital.
Q Your station?
A Fort Bragg.
Q Your armed force?
A U. S. Army.
Q Would you state your professional training and background, please?
A My undergraduate education was taken at Doane College in Crete, Nebraska, a Congregationalist College. I received my AB degree from there. My medical training was taken at the University of Nebraska, at which time I got my MD degree. I did a clinical rotating internship at St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska for one year, and I took my third year pathology residency at the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri for four years. I have since taken my board examination and am certified in anatomical pathology and clinical pathology.
Q Would you tell us, please, doctor, where you are licensed to practice medicine?
A I am licensed to practice medicine in Nebraska, the state of Nebraska.

CPT SOMERS: Would the defense care to examine into the qualifications of the witness?

MR. EISMAN: I have no questions about the doctor's qualifications.

CPT SOMERS: The government tenders this man, sir as an expert in the field of medicine and pathology.

COL ROCK: That is accepted.

Q Doctor Gammel, did you conduct an autopsy on the body of Colette MacDonald on 17 February 1970?
A Yes, I did.
Q Did you have autopsy photographs taken at that time under your supervision?
A Yes, I had both color and black and white taken under my supervision.

CPT SOMERS: At this time the government offers four photographs and request that they be marked as Government Exhibits 29 through 32.

COL ROCK: G-29 is a color photograph of the breast area. G-30 is a color photograph of Colette's upper chest and lower face. G-31 is a color photograph of Colette's face, front view. G-32 is a color photograph of Colette's left arm.

Q Doctor, I show you Government Exhibits G-29 thru G-32 and ask that you look at them. Were these photographs taken under your direction?
A Yes, they were.

(G-29 thru G-32 were shown to counsel for the defense.)

Q Doctor, when you had these photographs taken did you also have slides taken which corresponds to these photographs?
A Yes, the film is actually Ektochrome. The pictures were made from the slides.

CPT SOMERS: If I may at this time, sir, although the pictures G-29 thru G-32 are the exhibits which will be introduced into evidence, there are slides from which these pictures were made and to which these pictures directly correspond. The slides will be much easier for the doctor to refer to in his presentation than these pictures will be. We request permission to use the slides for that purpose, although I would state that there may be people who would like to clear the room before we do that.

MR. EISMAN: I would object to the use of any slides. We have the pictures. I don't see -- I would ask for an offer of proof why slides would be necessary to show the wounds, and I think it would be only inflammatory and is not necessary whatsoever; unless the government at this time would like to make an offer of proof why this is necessary. We have the doctor's report and that will probably be offered in evidence, and I don't see why we should be subjected and our client should be subjected to see any of these slides if there is no overwhelming reason for it.

CPT SOMERS: It will be considerably easier for the doctor to explain what he is talking about so that all may be aware of what he's talking about if he may use the slides.

COL ROCK: Major Gammel, would you indicate to me whether personally you think it is necessary to use these slides to make your presentation clear to me?

WITNESS: Well, one of the -- a few of them, the reproductions aren't as clear as the original slides, but I am sure I can make it fairly clear to you without -- that would be my only comment, that the reproductions aren't as good as the original slides. I think I could make it -- make you aware of what happened without the projection.

CPT SOMERS: Doctor, would it be easier and clearer with the slide projector?

WITNESS: I think it would be.

CPT BEALE: Let me ask you something. If you have those slides are you going to actually point out for the Colonel various and sundry significance of whatever the wounds are?

WITNESS: Yes.

CPT BEALE: And would that be easier to do than it would be to have just the picture and you continually turning it around and pointing to the exhibit? Is that the whole purpose of the slides?

WITNESS: Yes. I could come up to the front and point out in the pictures the same here and everybody could see it.

MR. EISMAN: Since the pictures are going to be the thing in evidence, I think it would be a lot easier for the investigating officer to have the doctor circle whatever he's talking about at that time, unless there is a particular item which cannot be made out on the picture. Otherwise I don't think it is necessary to subject my client to these slides. There's no actual purpose for it. If the doctor says he can't show a particular thing, then I have no objection to the slides being shown. If there is one particular thing which he has to show on the slides I will have no objection. But to have to do this with everything I don't think it is necessary.

CPT SOMERS: Sir, he said it would be easier to, clear to you if the slides were used to make his presentation. These slides cannot be anymore inflammatory than the pictures, since they are in fact only reproductions of the pictures, and we submit that the -- for clarity's sake the slides should be used.

MR. EISMAN: The slides won't be in evidence. The only thing the investigating officer is going to have is the pictures. So if he marks the pictures at least the investigating officer will have a continuing record along with this case of what the doctor is talking about. He won't have the slides or he won't have that scene when he reviews the testimony. Therefore, the doctor will be using something the investigating officer couldn't refer back to. If he points it out on the picture, the investigating officer can see it immediately and have that permanently for his records.

COL ROCK: In the question now before the investigating officer, the slides will be used. However, if there are any significant points to be brought out -- to the attention of the investigating officer, I will also request that this item be identified on the photograph so it can be marked for my future use.

CPT SOMERS: Very good, sir.

COL ROCK: Is this clear to you, Dr. Gammel?

WITNESS: Yes, it is.

COL ROCK: Proceed. Do you wish to have the lights turned out?

CPT SOMERS: Yes.

(The lights were dimmed.)

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q Doctor Gammel, would you describe, please, the injuries sustained by Mrs. MacDonald?
A I'd like to start out preliminarily with what was done. In the autopsy examination a rather extensive external examination was done in this case, and during that time the wounds were photographed, described and measured. We went from there to an internal examination of the body. The organs were examined first in place, and secondly, organ by organ to identify just the extent of injury that had occurred to the various organs. Now with this autopsy, I have divided the wounds in the two major categories, stab wounds and then blunt trauma.

COL ROCK: Blunt what?

WITNESS: Blunt trauma. The stab wounds are the first I'd like to describe and are exemplified by the first two slides, and I -- if I can go from there with the slides, I think. The stab wounds are shown here. This is a high chest view. To be oriented, this would be the lower portion of the neck going right down to the breast.

COL ROCK: Doctor, may I ask you to stand on the other side so that the counsel for the accused can also see clearly.

CPT SOMERS: If I may, this is a reproduction of Government Exhibit G-29.

WITNESS: This is the first we have. On the chest there were seven, what we classify as incised wounds. These incised wounds would be that type made with a knife. Seven then incised knife wounds. They measured about 1 1/5 centimeters. They are all fairly regular. There were 21 puncture type stab wounds, such as we have here. Round, puncture type wounds are made by a long sharp object of some sort, a thin object. These puncture wounds were scattered throughout the entire chest and on to the left arm. I will go to the next slide.

COL ROCK: Excuse me; there is no one of these that is particularly significant?

WITNESS: Well, yes, the ones that clustered over the left portion of the chest would be the significant ones.

COL ROCK: From what standpoint?

WITNESS: These are the ones that hit vital organs.

COL ROCK: I see. All right.

WITNESS: The wounds we see here then did actually penetrate through the chest wall and cause damage to the underlying lung and arteries.

CPT SOMERS: Excuse me. We are now referring to the slide which is a reproduction of Government Exhibit G-30.

MR. EISMAN: If I may interpose an objection before the doctor does continues. Were all of these wounds penetrated into vital organs?

WITNESS: All seven of the sharp knife type wounds did penetrate the chest wall. The twenty-one puncture type wounds, only about five of those actually penetrated the chest wall. The rest were very superficial. All right, then also we had nine sharp incisional or knife type wounds in the neck. These were all, again measured about a centimeter and a half in length, were gaping, and again penetrated through the skin down into the structures of the neck; the trachea and the thyroid were actually penetrated by these wounds. There is then the wound that caused much internal bleeding as many vital organs were penetrated underneath. I could go into that right now. I feel that the pulmonary artery had a hole in it as well as the lung had several lacerations and it was extensive enough to cause massive bleeding. The chest cavities were full of blood as well as the heart cavity and pericardium was full of blood, and this would be enough to cause exsanguination or bleeding to death. That was the extent of the sharp or incisional type of injuries.
The next major category, then, was the blunt trauma. The next slide, which is G-31, demonstrates the face on view and this slide, this reproduction is fairly dark. It shows you basically that there were three basic or three major blunt trauma wounds to the head, one to the left temple, one on the right temple, and the one right in the middle of the forehead right about the nose. The two blunt traumas to each temple were glancing blows, which caused a lot of laceration or the skin was torn down right to the skull. There was a lot of bruising of tissue around them, a lot of bleeding into the tissue. The one here in the center was directly over a skull fracture. The skull was small, it was depressed, it was a linear skull fracture, measured only about four centimeters in length. The underlying brain showed some contusions in the posterior aspect. The occipital region, which goes into the idea of trauma to the head sometimes, causes contusions on the opposite surface of the brain, because of the contra coup injury. The mechanism of it is not, in all the medical books, really isn't defined, but it is a well documented factor that this does happen. There was also a third laceration behind the right ear, again as I show it, with soft tissue trauma as a result of a blunt trauma. And on the previous photograph there was two rather light bruises across the chin, so in all we have six blunt trauma contusions on the face. The next major part were the extremities. The arms showed multiple bruising, multiple lacerations, and both arms were broken. The left arm which we have here was broken at the distal part of the radius down toward the wrist, both bones were fractured.

CPT SOMERS: Excuse me, doctor. We are now referring to the slide which corresponds with Government Exhibit 32.

WITNESS: The right arm showed similar types of bruises and lacerations, and again the ulna was fractured twice, and overlying it were lacerations.

Q Would you tell us, please what the ulna is?
A The ulna is one of the major bones of the arm. If you have this arm up this way, it would be the bone that would be out, toward you.

COL ROCK: Do you have any statement to make as to how you think the bones were broken, that is by a blunt instrument or --

WITNESS: Yes, the evidence would show that there was a blunt instrument that presumably come down upon the arm in this fashion, to break the ulna and spare the radius on the right arm.

COL ROCK: Do you have any idea of how many blows by a blunt instrument were made on each of the arms?

WITNESS: That would be very difficult. There were so many bruises and so many lacerations, that I could give estimation perhaps, but that would be it. I really don't know.

COL ROCK: All right, thank you.

WITNESS: That's all.

(The lights were turned on again.)

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q Doctor can you give us some idea what the angle of the stab wounds in the chest was, sir?
A As far as following the path of the stab wounds into the chest, I feel that all of them were fairly perpendicular to the body. Most of the wounds of the internal organs were perpendicular, into the wounds on the skin, because I found direct evidence that it was without significant angulation.
Q Do you have any idea from which direction the blows to the head were struck?
A Yes, I have an opinion that it would be from the front, because of the bruising of the skin and the piling up of the skin, more to the posterior aspect of the body, of the head, so I'd say that it was from the front.
Q Have you any opinion as to whether the blows from the blunt instrument or the stab wounds were inflicted first?
A I have an opinion although I can't base that with any kind of facts.

MR. EISMAN: I'm going to object to any opinion that is not based on medical certainty. This witness is an expert and he can give opinions if they are based on medical certainty and not on conjecture or surmise on his behalf.

CPT SOMERS: The witness as an expert is entitled to have an opinion. If he can give us a basis for his opinion, I think perhaps the best thing to do would be to listen to the opinion and the basis therefore and then decide it.

COL ROCK: The objection is overruled. Please give us your expert opinion.

A It would be my opinion that the blunt trauma was received first.
Q Did you type Mrs. MacDonald's blood?
A Yes.
Q What type of blood did she have?
A A. That's ABO Group. The RH Group would be positive, A positive.
Q And what did you say caused death in this case, doctor?
A The immediate cause of death would be the exsanguination, or bleeding to death from the sharp wounds on the chest.
Q Did you take certain exhibits from Mrs. MacDonald?
A Yes, I did.
Q And what was those?
A I took debris from the hands, fingernail scrapings, samples, and then of course I took various portions of the organs for toxicology work-up.
Q Did you take scrapings from the hands of the children, Kristen and Kimberly as well?
A Yes, I did.
Q Doctor, can you tell us when Mrs. MacDonald died?
A I can -- again, I'd have to give my opinion on when she died as -- in relation to investigative purposes I have an opinion, although I have to say it cannot, because of the nature of the thing, be based upon any actual facts. I have an opinion about a general area.

MR. EISMAN: Well, I'm going to object. This is not based on medical facts but based on something that somebody else told him. That would not be his opinion, so let's clarify this before we permit him to give an opinion not based on medical facts. He's only a medical expert.

CPT SOMERS: Doctor, is this opinion based on some hearsay?

A No, the opinion I have is based on the temperature, rigor mortis; again it is based on my medical facts.

CPT BEALE: The over -- the objection is overruled, then.

Q What is that opinion, doctor?
A I believe that the time of death on Colette MacDonald was sometime after three a.m., in the morning. Again, I want to say, though, that variation is so extreme on this. There can be so many factors that I don't think that time of death as derived by this method has ever been used by anything other that investigative purposes. There is so much unknown, that this is only an opinion.
Q Would you tell us what the difficulties are in determining time of death?
A So many factors have to be assumed. We have to assume that the body temperature was normal at the time of death, which is completely false for instance if a person was exercising strenuously before death; the body surface, the radiation, surrounding temperature, all these are factors which just cannot be bound to a formula and come out with -- even under the ideal mechanism of -- the most ideal would be the actual taking of the temperature, still does not allow you to come with any closer than five or six hours at that, and even that is debatable.
Q In your opinion -- your opinion is within those limits. Is that correct?
A Right. Within those limits my best opinion would be around -- sometime after three a.m.
Q Did you see Doctor Hancock perform the autopsies on Kimberly and Kristen MacDonald?
A Yes, I did.
Q Did you supervise him in these activities?
A Yes, I supervised him.
Q Did Doctor Hancock use standard proper procedure in the autopsies discussed?
A Yes, he did. I have full confidence in him.
Q Have you discussed his conclusions and do you concur with them?
A Yes, we discussed them at length and we concur.

CPT SOMERS: Your witness.

Questions by MR. EISMAN:
Q Doctor, do you have a copy of your autopsy report?
A Yes, I do.
Q I am going to show you a copy of a report and ask you to look through this and tell me if this is a complete and full report of the autopsy.

CPT BEALE: Mr. Eisman, hold up a second. Do you intend to offer into evidence the autopsy reports?

CPT SOMERS: I have no immediate intention of doing so.

MR. EISMAN: I will do so at this time, and that's why I am offering -- asking the witness to read this to see if it is a full one, and I will offer it as an accused exhibit.

CPT BEALE: Is this on Colette only?

MR. EISMAN: Yes.
Q I want you to be particular as to whether there is anything left out of that report.
A It seems to be all here.
Q Do you know what this is?
A Yes, I do.
Q What is that?
A That is the -- our report on this autopsy put out by the Armed Forces through the Pathology Forensic Branch up there.
Q Is that your report, or somebody's report on your report?
A That's somebody's report on my report.
Q So that is not your making?
A No, sir.

MR. EISMAN: At this time I would offer to the investigating officer the next accused exhibit, a copy of the doctor's complete pathology report or autopsy report.

COL ROCK: Accused Exhibit 25 is autopsy report by Major Gammel, Womack Army Hospital. Proceed, please.

MR. EISMAN: Thank you.

Q Doctor Gammel, when you were estimating the time, you said it was very difficult to estimate, for certain reasons which we didn't fully get into. In this case, was the best medical procedure taken regarding the preservation of the bodies in order that you could determine time of death, or was there something done which prevented you from making a more accurate determination?
A The ideal way of doing it wasn't done, no.
Q What would the ideal way of doing it have been?
A The ideal would have been to leave the bodies in the place they were found and take a temperature over a two to three hour interval, half hour intervals, and then from that construct a curve. That would be the ideal.
Q That would be the best medical procedure for a pathologist to determine time of death -- would be to take the body temperatures as they decrease and then construct a curve and through that method, you would come up with a -- a -- an analysis which would give you a good medical opinion as to the time of death. Is that correct?
A It would be a good medical opinion, yes.
Q And that good medical opinion would have been better than the medical opinion which you have offered today to the investigating officer, wouldn't it?
A Well, in my own mind, I -- because of the varying factors -- I'm not really sure. As far as I am concerned, they were both useful for investigative purposes.
Q Well, would it have been better had that been done, or would you have been able to give a better estimate -- estimation of the time?
A The estimation would have perhaps been better, but yet there would be the extenuating circumstances. You'd still have many, many hours on both sides that you couldn't say for sure. But, yes, it would be better with that qualification.
Q What specifically was done in this case which prevented you from using that better method?
A The bodies were brought into Womack Army Hospital and placed in our morgue, and as in the protocol there, it was placed in the cooler of our morgue and by the time I knew they were down there, they were in there approximately an hour.
Q Which would mean that regarding body temperature?
A Well, again I -- I'm just surmising from what I read. I know that a body takes about -- for the core temperature it takes over an hour for any change to occur, so I'd say probably it didn't make that much difference at all, but yet that would be very loose and shaky, probably.
Q So it would have been better from a pathology standpoint not to have had the bodies placed in the morgue. Is that correct?
A Yes.
Q Now you testified about the number of stab wounds that were -- how many total stab wounds would you classify as incised?
A Nine in the neck and seven in the chest, sixteen.
Q And how many puncture wounds total?
A I said 21 in my protocol.
Q And that was in the chest. Were there any in the arms?
A Well, that was in the chest, and there were two or three very superficial wounds on the left anterior arm region.
Q Were they included in the 21?
A Yes, sir.
Q And the superficial wounds which you have described -- would they have been inflicted, in your opinion, while the person was alive or after death, if you could estimate?
A I really can't estimate that. I can say that I feel the blood pressure was probably low, but as far as -- you can have a low blood pressure and still be alive, so I am not sure of that. I'm saying this because there was not much ecchymosis, surrounding hemorrhage. A little bit, not much. I don't know.
Q Would that have been more resistance or more muscle tension if the person was alive, fighting, which might have caused the wound not to go as deep to a person who was lying still on the ground being stabbed with that type of instrument?
A I don't know the answer to that question. I really don't. I just don't know.
Q In relation to the blunt trauma, did you reach a medical conclusion as to when that occurred in relationship to the other wounds?
A No, I didn't, I didn't.
Q Are you able to?
A No.
Q Now how many fractures were there on the deceased?
A There was a skull fracture and one arm -- sometimes I get these confused -- but one arm had the ulna broken in two places, and the other arm had the radius and ulna broken.
Q Would you indicate for the investigating officer exactly where these two --
A One was fairly high and one was more down towards the elbow region. The two fractures were located on the other arm completely through on this side. I'm not saying right or left, because without referring to my notes, actually.
Q Now were any of these blunt instrument injuries fatal?
A I would say no, again it is my opinion. I didn't find anything that stressed it.
Q Were the arms, in your opinion, laying on the ground flat when they were broken or were they held in a different position?
A Well, I would say that they were being held up because of the ulna being broken. It would be difficult to do this in a flat position.
Q Would you say this would be in a protective type?
A Yes, definitely.
Q Can you tell where all of these injuries occurred? Where in location to the final resting place of the body, where all these injuries occurred?
A No.
Q Were they necessarily all in the same room, or could a person have received some of them and gone into another room, staggered?
A I have no idea as to the progression as to how much time interval, no, I don't.
Q Now in reference to the debris from the hands which you found, what specifically did you find in the hands of Colette MacDonald?
A I -- there was some fragments of what appeared to be hair on one hand and also a fragment of what I felt was debris of some type skin, perhaps, then I took fingernail scrapings from her. I didn't see any specifics there.
Q Now in reference to the hair, was it clutched in the hand or was it just lying in the hand?
A It was entwined around, kinda stuck in dried blood.
Q In dried blood?
A Yes.
Q Is there any way for you to tell how or when that hair was placed there reference to the time of death? Could it have been placed there or gotten there after the victim was dead? To your knowledge?
A Yes, I have no way of knowing.
Q How long was this hair, do you recall? Did you measure it?
A No, I didn't really. It was fairly long. I did not measure it.
Q If you can recall, indicate to the investigating officer where this hair was found, in which hand?
A I think I said left hand, entwined around the --
Q You are indicating your right hand.
A It was entwined around the fingers and stuck into the blood on these last couple of small -- I think it was the small finger.
Q Could you give us an approximate length of how long this hair was?
A Oh, it would be a guess -- I say -- I just -- I don't really know for sure.
Q Was it more than an inch?
A Yes.
Q Was it two inches?
A Yes, possibly five or six inches.
Q Did you find any other hairs on the hands of Colette MacDonald?
A No.
Q Would this indicate to you, from your medical training, that this type of hair was a hair from a man or woman?
A I don't really have an opinion to that, really. Basically I thought it more as a -- to give to the laboratory and I didn't really look at it myself, just collecting it.
Q Now from the wounds which you examined on the body, especially in the chest area, from inside the body, did you remove any debris from these wounds?
A No.
Q Were there any blue fibers or threads inside the wounds on the chest cavity?
A Not that I saw.
Q From your experience if somebody was stabbed through a garment or if a garment laying on top of them, multiple times, would it be possible or probable that some fibers or threads would be forced into the body, if the garment was of a nature to shed fibers easily?
A Well, from my experience, I'd have to say -- I don't have that experience, and from what I've read. I looked for it and I didn't find it.
Q You didn't find it. Were there any, any narcotics found in the body of Colette MacDonald?
A No, not any narcotics.
Q Now were there any drugs of a nature which you know as a medical doctor are used in what parlance we call drug abuse, in any quantity that would indicate that drug abuse was present?
A No.
Q Now I believe there were certain drugs found in the present in the blood or organs of Colette MacDonald. Is that correct?
A That's true.
Q Now those, those medications or drugs would have been of a type that a pregnant woman might be taking for nausea and/or sleeping. Is that correct?
A You are referring to Benadryl?
Q Right.
A Yes, it could have been.
Q From your medical experience is this the type of drugs which is abused by people who are pregnant?
A No.
Q Is this the type of thing that normally would be prescribed by a doctor for a woman who needed it while she was pregnant?
A Yes, I probably would myself.

COL ROCK: Excuse me. Has the witness indicated that the Benadryl was found?

Q Let me ask this question. Was Benadryl found in the blood stream or organs of Colette MacDonald?
A Yes, it was found in the liver and urine, I believe.
Q Do you regard that as any improper finding or finding worthy of note for the investigating officer regarding Colette MacDonald?
A No.
Q Was any LSD found in the liver of Colette MacDonald?
A No.
Q Was there specific investigation or tests made for that?
A Yes, there was, however in talking with different individuals, this drug detoxifies very rapidly and nobody has enough experience to say it would have been there.
Q But no LSD, no narcotics or drugs other than what you would normally expect to find. Is this correct? In a pregnant lady.
A Well, there was one other drug, a small amount of ethanol.
Q What is ethanol?
A Alcohol. It's a beer, or --
Q Or wine?
A Absolutely.
Q She was not intoxicated or under the influence?
A No, absolutely not.
Q This would be something that might indicate to you she might have had a drink sometime a few hours before she died. Is that correct? And it had not yet been passed through her system.
A Right.
Q Were you instructed to look specifically for LSD and other dangerous drugs, or is this something you normally do with any normal autopsy?
A This would be a normal for a forensic type autopsy case, such as this was. For a medical autopsy that comes off the floor, I don't do it. For something like this I'd say it was normal procedure.
Q Were you specifically told by anyone to look for LSD?
A Well --
Q Or was this mentioned to you before you conducted the autopsy?
A It was mentioned, yes.
Q By whom?
A Well, my only contact was with Mr. Hawkins of the CID. I have it on my protocol again, and this is the only place I can --
Q Do you have anything written down about what he specifically told you?
A No, I don't.
Q What time was it that you spoke with Mr. Hawkins?
A Just before the autopsy, about 9:30. Again, I can't blame it on him, because I just don't remember. Somebody said -- yes -- that
Q Do you normally do that type of liver sectioning to look for LSD in all of these forensic type of examinations?
A No, actually the tissues are sent in and then the toxicology department has a screening test that they run for the various tests -- for the various drugs.
Q Were you given any reason why to look for drugs, if you can recall?
A Not any specific reason other than it should be ruled out.
Q And it was indicated to you by Mr. Hawkins that this had some import in your autopsy, that you should look for this?
A Well, again I don't want to fix the blame on anybody.
Q Well, I'm not asking you to blame anyone. I'm just asking you whether or not this was suggested.
A It was suggested to me that we should do a complete toxicology work-up on these organs and tissues, yes. Either that or it came to my mind automatically somehow.

MR. EISMAN: I have nothing further of this witness. Thank you very much, doctor. I think the investigating officer might have some questions for you.

CPT SOMERS: I have a redirect first, please.

Questions by CPT SOMERS:
Q Doctor, you made some reference to core temperatures. Would you please tell us a little bit about what core temperature is and how it effects -- or how long it takes to be effective?
A There are several ways of taking a temperature on a body. The most common is the rectal temperature. You put a thermometer into the rectum, six or eight centimeters and take a temperature. That's considered core temperature. Also, you make an incision in the liver. That's another core temperature. Usually the core of the body will be the slowest to cool. So when I made reference to this, I said if the body was placed in the refrigerator -- in our refrigerator and that this core temperature, according to the experimental work that I've read, takes a whole hour for it to change. It can change environments then and nothing to -- nothing would happen to it within an hour or so.
Q And how long were the bodies in the cooler? Do you have any idea?
A Just a little bit over one hour. We have records that they were placed there at eight o'clock, and they were out at nine, nine -- ten.
Q Doctor, did you give an opinion as to whether the blunt trauma occurred before the stab wounds?
A Yes, I did.
Q And that opinion was what?
A It is my opinion the blunt trauma occurred before.
Q When you took this hair from the hand of Mrs. MacDonald, what did you do with it?
A I recorded it and put it in a little plastic vial and then handed it directly over to the -- Mr. Hawkins who was there and we signed our name to the chain of custody and that's the last I saw of it.
Q Now there's been some reference to a pregnant lady. Was Mrs. MacDonald pregnant?
A Yes, there was a normal inter-uterine pregnancy of four to five months gestation present.
Q There has also been some reference to a drug which I believe you said was Benadryl?
A Benadryl.
Q And some ethanol or alcohol.
A Right.
Q Can you give an opinion as to the likely levels of those drugs you found?
A As far as I am concerned, there was no effect. It was well within the realm of normal.
Q Doctor with reference to an estimated time of death, which you've given, you are telling us, I believe, that there is a tolerance of a number of hours. Is that correct?
A That's true.
Q And from the time you gave and this tolerance would be backward and forward in time?
A Yes, absolutely.

CPT SOMERS: Does the investigating officer care to examine?

COL ROCK: I have one or two questions. To your knowledge was a hair sample taken from the head of Mrs. MacDonald and given to the CID agent?

WITNESS: No.

COL ROCK: Why was that?

WITNESS: I guess it was an oversight.

COL ROCK: Your procedure doesn't call for it?

WITNESS: I wasn't instructed to do it, so it was not done.

COL ROCK: Do you think the hair was so bloody that it would not have been a true lab test, that this would have been perhaps the reason?

WITNESS: No, I don't believe so. I'm sure it can be washed off.

COL ROCK: From your experience, is blood readily dissolvable in water? That is, you mentioned being able to wash off? Can it be readily be washed off just in water?

WITNESS: Well, it depends on how long it's been there. If it's dried it is difficult to take a brush. Even on the pictures I took later on, there was still some specks here and there that were dried blood that I couldn't get off. But all of it can get off eventually.

COL ROCK: Now the photographs which were taken, were they taken before you began work on the body or at what time?

WITNESS: Both. I have multiple photographs, and the ones that you saw were after. I have photographs -- I will qualify that again. The third one was before the blood had been washed off. The first two and last one was after, so I have multiple photographs on both sides.

COL ROCK: And was the washing done principally in order to clarify the location of the wounds?

WITNESS: Yes, to clarify their location and the nature.

COL ROCK: The blow to the head by the blunt instrument, could that cause shock or a blackout of the individual as far as their capability to function effectively?

WITNESS: Definitely the one that was associated with the fracture, it could well have caused unconsciousness, however there are many cases where severe trauma has occurred to the head without unconsciousness, so I couldn't say.

COL ROCK: So it could or could not?

WITNESS: Yes, that's right.

COL ROCK: I have no further questions.

MR. EISMAN: If I may, some of the questions of the investigating officer has raised a further question in my mind.

Questions by MR. EISMAN:
Q When you say that it was blunt trauma to the head with the type of injury that you have, can you determine whether or not the specific injury to the head would cause unconsciousness, or would not cause unconsciousness by viewing it, or would that be dependent on how the individual took it? Is there any way to say medically that a certain length of cut or damage to the skull would definitely cause unconsciousness, or would not definitely cause unconsciousness?
A No, and again I am basing this on the fact there is many cases recorded where there has been severe trauma with much more of the head blown away and still consciousness would remain.
Q And are there also cases where there are small contusions of the skin where serious injuries have occurred?
A Absolutely, to be associated with inter-cranial bleeding, which didn't occur here, but it could happen.
Q Or the trauma itself could have rendered the person unconscious or into semi-consciousness. Is that correct?
A Absolutely, yes.
Q Now of the puncture wounds, are there any of those which you would determined to be self-inflicted?
A Well, no, I -- no.

MR. EISMAN: No further questions.

CPT SOMERS: No redirect.

COL ROCK: Major Gammel, you are advised that you will discuss your testimony with no person other than counsel for the government or counsel for the accused. Do you understand that, sir?

WITNESS: Yes, sir.

COL ROCK: You are excused subject to recall.

MR. EISMAN: Could we have a brief recess now?

COL ROCK: Yes, we will recess for ten minutes.

CPT SOMERS: Sir, if I may, I suggest fifteen.

(The hearing recessed at 0959 hours, 16 July 1970.)

 

 

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