William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Tuesday, 7, October, 2008

FBI Visit

Filed under: Cat Blogging,Forensics,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 00:08

I took my graduate class to visit the FBI field office today. It was very impressive.

They’ve moved most of the FBI offices out of Federal Buildings and into stand-alone ones. Getting rid of the targets, I suppose. But this office was NICE. Flossy, new, well-maintained. The Cleveland Federal Building is frankly a dump.

We had a very impressive tour of the building, including the weapons locker and the incident command post (Lake County has a better one, but hey) and then a two-hour long demonstration of evidence and body recovery from the evidence response team leader.  Then the public affairs officer tried to recruit my students, as there is a hiring push on.

Some students had to leave early for an exam in another course. One guy, wanted to leave even earlier, because he wanted lunch. I suggested that tours of the FBI field office don’t come around every day, and that there were 3 McDonald’s and 2 Burger Kings en route to the school. How could you WANT to leave early?

I DID stop at the Mickey’s because I was hungry, and this is the McDonald’s where there is a cat colony. So, I got the 20 piece McNuggets (5 for me 15 for the cats) and tried to make friends. Yes, they can has cheezburger. Two tuxedo cats, a tortoiseshell momma, and a little ginger one, but only a tuxedo one was brave. He ate the nuggets, but kept eyeing me as if he didn’t trust me. I guess he didn’t. And the last thing I need are new, well other cats. I just hate to see them living in a junkyard.

Saturday, 4, October, 2008

O.J. Simpson Has Been Convicted…of Something

Filed under: Forensics,Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 20:33

And, you know what’s really wrong about that headline?  It is something I have noticed time and time again when dealing with forensic cases.  The cases acquire the names of the defendant.  I get a call from the prosecutor on the “Peel case” or, if they’re more formal “State v Peel”.  The victim gets marginalized, and ultimately ignored.

This first was brought home to me in the 2000 Sheppard trial.  For those who are not in the know, Dr. Sam Sheppard battered his wife to death on 4th July, 1954.  He was railroaded into prison with terrible pre-trial publicity (see the headline).  In 1964, his attorney, F. Lee Bailey, got him a new trial, where he was acquited.  His estate brought a trial for false imprisonment in 2000, seeking damages.  These were not granted.

A lot of ink has been spilt about the Sheppard Case.  My personal belief is the prosecutors in 1964 didn’t spend to much time and effort (the trial transcript is 1/6 as big as the one from the first trial) on a trial of a man who was going to get out on parole from his original sentance anyway.  Having reviewed the evidence in 2000, and having undressed Marilyn Sheppard (among other things) I remain firmly convinced of Sam Sheppard’s guilt.  But Marilyn (and her child, she was pregnant when she died) get short shrift.  Most victims do.

Nicole Brown Simpson died a very nasty death.  She was alone with her killer, probably frightened, and died horribly.  The extent of her wounds (including near decapitiation) bespeak of immnese rage.  “Overkill” in the forensic argot.  Vastly more violence than was needed to kill.  Ron Goldman was killed doing a favour, in an attempt to cover tracks.

Simpson is, unfortunately, a thug.  I say unfortunately, because he has a nice manner, and a pleasant persona, and I’d enjoyed seeing him in fluff roles in films.  But that means he’s a better actor than I gave him credit for.  He’s not a nice man.  He exercises spectacularly poor judgement.  He has a propensity to violence, and it’s finally caught up with him.

Race in the United States is still a polarizing issue.  I don’t believe that anyone in the US wants to see people, whatever their colour, get away with murder.  I do believe that juries do want to be fair.  They do try to do the right thing in the context that they are permitted to act.  Christopher Hitchens had an interesting take on it.

What he said…

Filed under: Social Commentary — williamthecoroner @ 20:00
Col. Jeff Cooper

Col. Jeff Cooper

“Most people have opinions about just everything there is, but the value of those opinions is directly proportional to whatever experience and knowledge they have of the subject in question. If we are talking about brain surgery you don’t want to do anything based on my opinions, because clearly I’m not a surgeon.”—
Jeff Cooper



H/T Xavier

Friday, 3, October, 2008

What Is The Sound of a Late Student Knocking?

Filed under: Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 15:28

Today was one of my first firearms/gunshot wounds lectures.  I’m particularly sensitive about it, considering how the business school got shot up several years ago.  As a forensic pathologist, or an emergency room physician, a knowledge of trauma is important.  I started target shooting several years ago, because I wanted to learn more about my work.

Now, I find it relaxing.  You have to be so mindful of safety when your shooting, it concentrates the mind wonderfully.  In the far East, some Zen practitioners use archery, I use a little Browning 22. I was also a history minor in college, and I’m interested in some of the artifacts.  When well cared for, they last.  I’m considering getting a collection of WWII battle rifles.  Camp Perry is within a reasonable distance.

The students come in, and I lock the door.  Then the stragglers start to come in.  They knock.  An student in the room lets them in.  Finally, I say enough.  The door’s locked for a reason.  I reminded people to be on time for these lectures.   But one straggler can see through the window, and keeps knocking.  I can see the present students shaking their heads, but the knocking continues for five minutes.

I get irritated enough to let the late person in.  With pointed comments about being late, and needing to have control of the room when we’re working with such a sensitive subject.  I then notice the cardboard with which I can block the window.

We still get knocks, which is now about halfway through the class.  I must say that the stragglers are nothing if not persistent.  Not punctual, but they are persistent.  I manage to go over the basics of firearms, the history of firearms, and the terminology of firearms and the very basic rudiments of safe gun handling (Cooper’s four rules).

There’s more than one hour’s worth of material there.  I’m also hoping there will be an improvement in punctuality.

Sappy Cat Blogging

Filed under: Cat Blogging — williamthecoroner @ 15:08

It’s that time of year.  Woodsmoke drifts on the air.  Leaves are beginning to fall.  Time to pull out the pullovers.

And find all the cat hair from last year on the dark sweaters.

Thursday, 2, October, 2008

She’s BACK!

Filed under: Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 08:04

Sparrow’s Haiku contest is up!  Go thou and vote!

Wednesday, 1, October, 2008

Reason #463 Why Dr. Zeus Should Not Teach When Schnockered On Cold Medicine

Filed under: Self mockery,Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 17:02

So there I was, discussing sharp force injuries, and we get to fighting knives. And I mention the Bowie knife, named for that American who fell at the Alamo with Col. Travis and Davy Crockett–David Bowie.

Yeah, right.

And the students giggled a bit, but let me continue on blathering about David Bowie, until I realized, through the medicinal haze, that James Bowie died at the Alamo, and David Bowie is still above ground (though his career might not be).

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