Forensics: The vagaries of determining the Time of Death (TOD) during autopsy

The recent ABC 20/20 show “Her last chance” on California Innocence Project’s client, Kimberly Long, put in perspective how some police agencies get help or by omission, no help, from pathology information. In Kim’s case, her conviction being vacated is based on both the DA and defense avoidance of TOD evidence and clear proof of her exclusion by blood spatter “dynamics.” From those, logic should move forward from this evidentiary level to  “a reasonable person”  and beyond a doubt (also ignored by some DAs) conclusion that the police theory, only supported by an “anti-alibi” interview wit statement, is contradicted.

A good story on why TOD is so important in determining circumstances of accidents, unsupervised deaths, suicides and suspected homicides. Plus, it’s always nice if the body temperature is taken at the scene. That mostly only happens on TV, however.

“The Living Dead” From the New York times magazine.

About csidds

Dr. Michael Bowers is a long time forensic consultant in the US and international court systems.
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