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

1979 JEFFREY MACDONALD CASE TRIAL TRANSCRIPT
August 21, 1979: Dr. Paul Manson

 

(Whereupon, DR. PAUL N. MANSON 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 11:58 a.m.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Your name is Paul Manson, I believe; is that correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q And what do you do, sir?
A I am a plastic surgeon for Johns Hopkins.
Q Johns Hopkins?
A Yes.
Q How long have you been at Johns Hopkins?
A Since 1976.
Q Do you know Jeffrey MacDonald?
A I do.
Q How long have you known him?
A Since 1964.
Q Where did you meet him?
A In medical school.
Q Where was that, sir?
A Chicago, Illinois.
Q At Northwestern?
A Yes.
Q Did you meet him in 1964?
A Yes.
Q Did you -- state whether or not you and Dr. MacDonald maintained a friendship during your medical school work?
A Yes; we did.
Q Was there a circle of friends who were very close there?
A Yes.
Q Who were those friends?
A People in our laboratory group.
Q All right, would one of those people have been Bob McGann who preceded you to the witness stand?
A Yes, sir.
Q So, you and Dr. MacDonald and Dr. McGann and some other people had a close circle of friends; would that be correct?
A Yes.
Q Did you study together?
A Yes.
Q Would you state whether or not you ever visited at his home?
A Yes; on many occasions.
Q And would you describe to the jury the kind of environment you found there in his home?
A A very good environment. Dr. MacDonald and his wife had a relationship based on love and respect. It was pleasurable for other people to be there and it was pleasant for me to associate with his children.
Q Were you married at that time, Dr. Manson?
A No, sir.
Q Were you at that time seeing the woman who was ultimately to become your wife?
A Yes.
Q Would you state whether or not you and your future wife spent time together with Dr. MacDonald and Colette?
A Yes.
Q What kind of things would you do?
A We would go over to their house for dinner, double date at various places.
Q I assume, then, that you had an opportunity to observe Dr. MacDonald's attitude toward his family?
A Yes.
Q What was it?
A Love, respect.
Q And did you feel the same about Colette as you did toward him?
A Yes; she was very proud of her husband.
Q After medical school, what happened? Where did you go and where did he go?
A I went to Boston and was an intern and resident on the surgical service of Boston City Hospital. Jeff went to New York and was an intern at Columbia Presbyterian.
Q Did you have an opportunity ever to see him after you left medical school?
A Yes; we traveled on two occasions -- my wife and I -- to New York and stayed with them in their home.
Q When you went to New York and stayed with them in their home, did you find Jeffrey MacDonald to be the same person you had known in medical school?
A Yes; I did.
Q What was his reputation in medical school for truthfulness and veracity?
A Outstanding. He was an exceptionally open and honest person -- very straightforward.
Q In your opinion, what was his reputation among his classmates at Northwestern for nonviolence or peacefulness?
A He was not considered a violent person.
Q Now, would it be a fair statement then, Dr. Manson, to say that you remained in touch with Jeff even though maybe you didn't get to see him often after you left medical school?
A Yes; additionally, I recall that he and his family came to Boston to visit us and stayed in our home.
Q Where were you, Dr. Manson, when you found out about what had happened in Jeff's home in February of 1970?
A I was at the hospital.
Q What happened after you learned about it?
A Shock and disbelief. I couldn't imagine a thing like that would happen.
Q What kind of child was Kim?
A An intelligent, inquisitive child who had a very winning way about her. She -- to those of us who visited -- we would read her stories and she would show you what things she had made.
Q Would you state whether or not after you learned about what had occurred -- you came to Fort Bragg?
A Yes.
Q What did you do?
A We went to the hospital -- my wife and I -- and spent two days there with Jeff and then went to the funeral and then left.
Q Did you have an opportunity at that time to reflect on the relationship that Jeff and Colette had had?
A Yes.
Q Is there any one word or maybe two words or three that you could use to describe the relationship that they had had together?
A It was a very good relationship. It was obvious to everyone, I think, that their relationship was based on love, respect, and openness toward each other. It was a kind of relationship that, if you could project that for yourself, for your own family, you would wish to have that kind of relationship or that kind of a family.
Q Did they ever argue in your presence?
A Not argue. They might occasionally have a difference of opinion, but Jeff was always very quick to express his -- he wouldn't keep things inside -- he would say things, and that was pretty much the -- you know -- they would resolve it.
Q Did you ever see at any time Jeff become violent with anyone?
A I can't recall that I did.
Q Have you ever seen Jeff lose his temper?
A No.
Q Have you observed Jeff in stressful situations?
A Yes.
Q What was he like in stressful situations?
A In episodes in medical school in surgery he was calm and collected. He, I think, controlled himself quite well. He is not a nervous or anxious person. He is a good competitor and we were involved in sports.
Q What did you observe when you first saw Jeff at Fort Bragg after this event had occurred?
A He was in the hospital bed and he had chest tubes (sic) in place.
Q What other things, if any, did you observe?
A He looked grief-stricken and worn out. He did not look physically well. He looked like he had been beaten. He was slightly pale and in some pain.
Q Dr. Manson, I know that you did not examine him professionally as a physician, but let me ask you this question: as a friend to him, did you observe any injuries on or about his body?
A Yes.
Q Did you actually touch any of the injuries or probe the injuries or do any other things that a physician would do in treating a patient?
A I can't recall that I touched or probed any injury.
Q But you did use your vision so that you could observe --
A (Interposing) Yes.
Q -- the wounds?
A Yes.
Q Now, on the witness stand today, do you have any recollection about where those injuries were on his body?
A Yes.
Q Would you describe what you recall about the location of the injuries?
A I recall he had a bruise on his forehead and a bruise on his temple area.
Q On which side of his forehead, if you recall and which side of his temple area?
A It was the left side of his forehead.
Q Was that the bruise?
A Yes.
Q What about the temple area?
A Right temple area. He had a bruise on his left arm. He had some smaller marks on the chest that could be compatible with puncture wounds.
Q All right, let me interrupt you at that point and then we will continue with what other things you observed. Let me ask you a question about the puncture wounds: in your work, Dr. Manson, have you ever had an opportunity to observe puncture wounds?
A Yes.
Q Would you have had an opportunity to observe puncture wounds on many occasions; would that be correct?
A Yes.
Q How could you tell the difference between puncture wounds and flecks of blood?
A One would have to clean the fleck. You know you can remove a fleck. Sometimes a small amount of blood will be trapped within the opening to a puncture wound and it would be hard to see the puncture wound. You would have to remove that fleck of blood to actually visualize the wound underneath.
Q Were you able to get close enough to Dr. MacDonald's chest so that you are able now to express an opinion to this jury as to whether what you saw actually were puncture wounds?

MR. MURTAGH: OBJECTION.

THE COURT: SUSTAINED.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Do you have an opinion as to whether what you observed on Dr. MacDonald's chest were puncture wounds?

MR. MURTAGH: OBJECTION.

THE COURT: Well, did not this witness testify that he did not touch or probe any of these injuries?

MR. SMITH: Your Honor, all I am asking is if he has an opinion.

THE COURT: But an opinion has to be based on something.

MR. SMITH: Yes, sir. I can examine further.

THE COURT: Examine him.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, sir.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q What do you have to do, Dr. Manson, in order to ascertain as a physician whether what you are looking at is a puncture wound?
A Sometimes all you need to do is see it. Sometimes you can --
Q (Interposing) Did you see these?
A Yes.
Q Did you get a good enough look at what you were seeing to have an opinion now as to whether it was a puncture wound that you were looking at?
A Yes.
Q Do you hold that opinion right now at this moment -- do you have an opinion?
A Yes.
Q What is your opinion?
A They are injuries compatible with puncture wound.
Q Do you remember about how many you saw?
A The exact number, no.
Q I would not ask you for an exact number. Give us your best estimate as to how many you saw?

MR. MURTAGH: OBJECTION.

THE COURT: OVERRULED.

THE WITNESS: I would say over half a dozen.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Do you recall -- do you remember about where they were on his body -- that is, not the exact location but the approximate location?
A On the chest.
Q If I asked you to come down to the chart which is in the Courtroom, would you be able to take a marker and place on the chest the location of the puncture wounds as you recall them?

MR. BLACKBURN: Your Honor, we would OBJECT to this.

THE COURT: Let's find out -- have you got any recollection as to where they were?

THE WITNESS: Yes.

THE COURT: Do you recall now where they were so that you could indicate on this chart up here where they were?

THE WITNESS: Yes.

THE COURT: Go do it.

MR. SMITH: Thank you.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Dr. Manson, I am going to hand you a blue marker and ask you if you will to place a dot on the chart on the clear plastic overlay at each place where you remember seeing a puncture wound, and if you will stand over to the side so the jury can see you?
A I remember some puncture wounds in this area (indicating).
Q How would you describe that area as a physician? Would you describe it as the right chest?
A Yes.
Q Is there any better description? Would it be upper right chest?
A Right anterior central chest.
Q Right anterior central chest. Would you place the marks then where you recall them? (Witness complies.)
Q Do you remember any other marks on Dr. MacDonald's body?
A Yes. I remember something in this area (indicating) and something in the abdomen.
Q All right, and the marks that you placed again in the upper chest area, were those, in your opinion, puncture wounds?
A Yes, sir.
Q The mark you have placed on the abdomen, how would you describe that wound?
A More like a laceration.

MR. SMITH: All right, you may return to the witness stand. Thank you, sir.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Have you had an opportunity to visit with Jeff in the last few days or in the last 24 hours, Dr. Manson?
A Yes.
Q Based on your visit with him, is he the same person that you knew before in medical school?
A Yes.
Q Do you now have an opinion as to whether Jeffrey MacDonald is a truthful person?
A Yes, he is truthful.
Q Do you have an opinion now as to whether he is a peaceful person?
A He is peaceful.

MR. SMITH: You may examine.


C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N 12:16 p.m.

BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q Dr. Manson, it is fair to state at this moment, Dr. MacDonald, would you consider him one of your better friends?
A Yes, sir.
Q Now, directing your attention to the time you were just discussing in the hospital, did you ever have occasion to talk with any of his doctors concerning his physical condition, if you can recall?
A I don't believe I did.
Q Did you ever, prior to the last day or so, read his medical records?
A No, sir.
Q Have you read them recently?
A No, sir.
Q Have not read them at all?
A No, sir.
Q You testified that you did not examine Dr. MacDonald; did you?
A No, sir.
Q Or touch his body?
A That is correct.
Q When you saw him, was he laying down or sitting up?
A He was propped up at a slight angle in bed. The head of the bed was raised 45 degrees or so.
Q His chest was bare, I take it?
A Yes.
Q What did you observe on his arms or wrists besides the bruise that you mentioned, I believe?
A Tbe only thing I can recall is the bruise on his left arm.
Q You never turned him over to look at his back; did you?
A No, sir.
Q Ever feel his head for bumps or anything like that?
A I can't recall touching his head.
Q Do you recall whether or not his head was lacerated in any way?
A I don't believe it was. I remember him complaining of a headache which called my attention to the bruises.
Q Was the skin broken or do you recall?
A I don't believe the skin on the head was broken.
Q With respect to his chest area, the injuries which you have mentioned, he had a chest tube in the right chest; is that correct?
A Yes.
Q Besides that particular injury, did you observe any other bandages on him at all or his injuries or wounds?
A I can't recall that.
Q You do not recall any suturing of any injuries or wounds -- I am sorry -- besides the chest tube area?
A I can't recall that.
Q You don't know what injections, if any, of local anesthesia he had; do you?
A No, sir; I don't.
Q Now, you testified, did you not, at the Article 32 proceedings; is that correct?
A Yes, sir.
Q I believe you testified this morning that in your opinion, Dr. MacDonald is a truthful individual; is that correct?
A Yes.
Q I would like to read to you a portion of your Article 32 testimony from page 1062. Let me read this first of all and then I will ask you whether you agree or disagree with it. "Question: At Womack, you were there as a friend; were you not? Answer: Yes, sir. Question: You spoke about a tension pneumothorax, and you have differentiated this from an ordinary pneumothorax. What did you call that ordinary pneumothorax? Answer: It's a pneumothorax -- a pneumo. Captain MacDonald actually had a hemopneumothorax, which means there was both blood and air in the potential space that is between the pleura. A pneumothorax is simply air. A tension pneumothorax can occur with either. Question: But your description of it as a hemo pneumothorax is not based on your observation but on something you were told; is that correct? Answer: Yes, sir. Question: Who told you that? Answer: Captain MacDonald." Do you recall that testimony at all?
A Vaguely.
Q Do you have any reason to doubt that the court stenographer took it down correctly?
A No, sir.
Q Do you know whether or not Dr. MacDonald had a pneumothorax or a hemothorax?
A No, sir.
Q Dr. Manson, you do not have any personal firsthand knowledge of the events which occurred at 544 Castle Drive on the morning of the 17th of February, 1970, do you?
A No, sir.

MR. BLACKBURN: No further questions.

MR. SMITH: Your Honor, may I ask a question. I hate to mention the word "pneumothorax" again in the courtroom, but let me ask one question, please, of this doctor about this.


R E D I R E C T E X A M I N A T I O N 12:21 p.m.

BY MR. SMITH:
Q Dr. Manson, I want to be sure I understand what a hemopneumothorax is. What is it?
A Air in blood between the lung and the chest wall.
Q And if there is some blood along with the air, you could term that hemopneumothorax, couldn't you?
A Yes.
Q And that would be a fair statement, wouldn't it?
A Yes.

MR. SMITH: No further questions.

MR. BLACKBURN: Your Honor, could I have just one last question?

THE COURT: No, I am going to let him go last; but I will let you go right now.

MR. BLACKBURN: That is what I meant.


R E C R O S S - E X A M I N A T I O N 12:22 p.m.

BY MR. BLACKBURN:
Q Doesn't the term "hemopneumothorax" -- or "hemothorax," excuse me -- indicate some hemorrhaging with blood?
A You mean as to how the blood got there? Hemothorax simply means that there is blood between the lung and the chest wall. It doesn't refer to how it got there in itself.

MR. BLACKBURN: No further questions, Your Honor.

MR. SMITH: No questions.

THE COURT: Call your next witness.

MR. SEGAL: We call Mr. Tony Abbatte, please.

(Witness excused.)

 

 

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