Forensic Analysis


The body of a Marine Corps officer was found in his backyard lying on a 12 gauge shotgun. A death certificate certifying suicide was issued the following day when the autopsy was performed. The purpose of this paper is to not only show the officer's death was by homicide, but also to illustrate the difference between "instantaneous" and "sudden" death, and to emphasize that the initial death certificate is a preliminary document and should not be finalized until all the evidence is available. The death certificate indicated that the victim died immediately after a self-inflicted intraoral shotgun wound that completely destroyed his brainstem and upper spinal cord as well as lacerating his entire brain cortex. Indeed, under these circumstances, death would have been instantaneous. However, the totality of evidence illustrates that this was not the case. Rather, the presence of a depressed skull fracture resulted from a fatal blow to the head. Death was sudden but not instantaneous. Autopsy findings indicate that the victim retained basic brainstem functions for a minimum of several minutes after the head blunt force trauma before he succumbed.

Download pdf: SABOW&BURNETT

Analysis of Manipulated Photographs Submitted to Federal Court and the United States Congress

In 1994, as a result of a wrongful death civil case in Federal Court (Sara Sabow et al. v. The United States, US District Court, Central District of California, Southern Division. SA CV 933-991 AHS), the defendant, the United States Department of Defense, released to the plaintiffs approximately 30 autopsy photographs of the decedent. The decedent\u2019s autopsy was performed by an Orange County (California) Coroner\u2019s medical examiner. The plaintiffs alleged the decedent died due to a powerful blow to his posterior head on the right occipital and not by an intraoral shotgun blast which followed the blow to the head. The defense claimed the victim died solely by the intraoral shotgun discharge and the death was by suicide.

One of the autopsy photographs differed from all the other autopsy photographs by appearing to have been poorly taken. However, digital analysis of a high resolution image of the questioned photograph shows it was likely the result of manipulation in the darkroom. It was determined a nearly identical photograph to the questioned photograph that was submitted in a report to the US Congress in 2004 was a different fabrication. In December 2012 the original, unmodified photograph was discovered from which both manipulated photographs were likely generated. Thus, the comparisons of the two modified photographs to the original show these photographs were modified to hide evidence.

This study proves beyond reasonable doubt perjured evidence submissions had occurred by the United States Department of Defense: the first in Federal Court and the second to the US Congress.

Download Manipulated Photograph: MANIPULATED PHOTOGRAPH

Crime Scene Reconstruction

A United States Marine Corps colonel allegedly died by an intraoral shotgun blast in the backyard of his home on the El Toro MCAS, Orange County, California in 1991. The shotgun when fired was shown to leak gunshot residue (GSR) from its breech and trigger housing. Two scenarios for the manner of death, suicide and homicide, were evaluated as to the relative concentrations and distribution of GSR and back spatter residue (BSR) on the colonel's clothing. Results show there are no concentrations of GSR or BSR on the clothing that should be present if the colonel committed suicide. Bloodstains on and away from the body and the position of the body indicate homicide. The colonel's body was staged. Death was by homicide.

Download pdf: BURNETT&SABOW

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