I Spitz on Your Grave
Posted by thedarwinexception on June 20, 2011
Another Saturday, another sunny day spent watching the Casey Anthony trial. I don’t know why I always feel so resentful of Casey on Saturday’s. I don’t like her every other day, but I really don’t like her on Saturday.
The defense’s next witness is Dr. William Caesor Renaldo Rodriguez.(The Third), Wow. I already don’t like this guy. Just because of the way he admits to having ”Caesor Renaldo” in his name. Before Baez can even get a question out, the witness offers on his own that he is an unpaid consultant in this case. The state objects to this unsolicited testimony, and the objection is sustained. God God I told you I wasn’t going to like this guy. Trying to bolster your own testimony through altruism is not cool.
Caesor is a forensic anthropologist. He is employed by the Department of Defense’s Medical Examiner’s office in Washington DC. (Bet he isn’t “unpaid” there.) Baez then asks if he is an unpaid consultant – jut so the guy can get that out. He is. And he has been with the DoD for 23 years. Before that he worked in Onandaga County, NY and surrounding counties. (I wonder if he worked in the county I live in – it’s a “surrounding county”.) He has a doctorate. He is a co-founder of the Body Farm. Damn it, and I really don’t like him. But I love the Body Farm.
He says the Body Farm was Dr. Bass’s idea. And Dr. Bass was Caesor’s mentor and professor. In the early 80’s the two of them were discussing “PMI” and how they could research this further. Bass decided that the only way to do that was to create this facility. This guy put up the fences and laid the concrete. He was the senior author on the first publications.
Th witness says he has traveled all over the world studying bodies in various stages of decomposition in varying environments.
The witness then defines taphonomy as the study of the breakdown of the body after death. What happens to that organism after death and how it is recycled by nature. He has a chapter in Werner Spitz’s book, he has published many papers and case studies, and tons of research in taphonomy.
The witness explains that forensic anthropology has it’s roots in Europe. The study never really was taken up in the United States until the advent of the decay facilities – specifically the one he co-founded in Tennessee. Because of his work with the Body Farm and his close association with prominent entomologists in the country, the witness also claims to be a forensic entomologist.
He has been deemed an expert witness – conservatively – 100 times. He is a multi disciplinary expert witness. Baez offers him as an expert in Forensic Anthropology, Entomology and Taphonomy. Ashton wants to ask the witness something – and is allowed to so so. He asks the witness how many times he has been accepted as an expert in Entomology. The witness says none, specifically, but he has been deemed in expert in the use of insect activity to determine time of death. Ashton says he would accept the witness as an expert in Forensic Anthropology and Taphonomy, but not in Entomology.
There is a sidebar, and then Baez questions the witness further with regards to his experience in Entomology. Th witness says that with his work at the body farm his primary research was with the insect activity and it’s relation to the decompositional process. He has consulted with law enforcement hundreds of times with regards to forensic entomology.
The judge accepts him as a witness in entomology.
In this case he was given the medical examiner’s report and findings in the examination of the deceased, the forensic anthropological report, the entomological report, photographs of the recovery and the scene and photos of the remains from the ME’s office, including the photos of the skull from both the scene and the ME”s office.
Baez asks this witnesses opinion of the collection of the evidence from the scene. The witness says the evidence collection seemed to be quite thorough. Collecting a child’s bones from this type of scene is generally difficult, but it was thorough in this case. One thing he did note was that he didn’t see in the report any efforts to locate the exact initial placement of the body. This is something he generally does in his cases. Because of the subsequent scattering of bones by carnivores, the bones may be spread out from where the body was initially placed. It is important to find the exact area of decomposition because not only will there be important decompositional evidence, but also important trace evidence -fibers, clothing, teeth and evidence such as bullets in a shooting victim. All of these items will be found at the initial decompositional site.
When Baez asks the witness how to look for the initial placement site, there’s another sidebar. Baez comes back and asks again – what the witness would look for in trying to locate the initial placement site.
The witness says he would look for a disrupted area that has evidence of soil staining as a result of the decomposition. The bodily fluids that leech out can change the consistency of the soil underneath. It can also change the vegetative growth – increasing the growth of plants that feed on this type of material, and killing other vegetation that the fluid may smother. Also, during certain times of the year, you may see carrion insects feeding and congregating in this area. So, entomologists will look for these signs of change and activity in determining where the site of decomposition was.
In this case, Caesor did not see any pictures of this type of area, and he saw no notes of it in the reports. Although he would hope that an anthropologist would note such a thing in his report.
Baez asks Caesor if he had any experience of cases that involved duct tape. Caesor says he has. Baez asks some of the things that he expects to see when he is faced with a victim that had duct tape either to package them or bind them in some way.
Caesor says he has a lot of experience with bound victims – whether that binding is with cloth, wire, tape or other materials. Caesor says when looking at the binding itself, one has to look also to the body, if there is soft tissue the examiner can look at the soft tissue to determine exactly where the tape was. In cases of mummification, the tape can continue to be attached to the mummified tissues. In the case of skeletonized remains, the decompositional process will affect the adherence of the tape.
At this Ashton objects, and there’s another sidebar. When they come back from sidebar, the judge asks Ashton to make his objections for the record, and so the court can address them.
Ashton says that the witnesses testimony of his opinion was not included in his report of February 21st, 2011, as was specified in the court order demanding that all witnesses opinions be disclosed by report to opposing counsel. There is a passing reference to duct tape in the report, but only as a fact of the case, there were no opinions given regarding duct tape.
Baez gives his interpretation of the court’s order to the judge, saying that he thought that it could be in the report or in the deposition. The judge tells him to pull out the court order. (I’m betting that’s not what it said….)
While Baez is looking for his court order, the Judge asks the witness a few questions. He wants to know what the witness was going to testify to regarding the duct tape. The witness replies that in looking at the photos of the skull from both the scene and the ME’s office that the duct tape was in two different positions. In skeletonized remains, unless those remain are buried, one cannot make a determination of the exact positioning of duct tape. Once the tape has lost it’s adhesive qualities, one cannot make a conclusion as to the restriction of the duct tape, and in decomposed remains once the soft tissue is lost that the duct tape was attached to, and we have the movement of those remains by animals, there is a preclusion from anyone being able to make any scientific conclusion as to the original placement of that duct tape – whether it covered the eyes, or restricted airways, did it cover the nose and the mouth, or just the mouth….In cases that this witness has had, he testifies that he was only able to conclude the placement of duct tape in cases where the victim was buried and the duct tape was held in place by the surrounding soil, or in a mummified body, where the tissue has dried out and the duct tape is still adhering.
The judge asks the witness when he formulated that opinion. The witness says when he saw the pictures, earlier this year, right prior to his report which was dated February 21st, 2011. The judge asks the witness if there’s any reason he didn’t include this information he just testified about in his report. The witness basically says “Because everyone would agree with me. This is a no-brainer, non issue.” (Because his name is CAESOR, I guess…..) He says he was never asked bout duct tape,this is just something he noted in his examination of the pictures.
The judge says “So you noted it in your examination, but you didn’t include it in your report?” The witness says that’s correct. The witness says that he shared this information with Mr. Baez during one their telephone conversations after the witness shared his report. (DUNT- dunt- DUUUUNNNNNN) The plot thickens.
The judge asks Caesor if the defense team, Mr. Baez in particular, ever informed him that he was to include all opinions he would be testifying to in his report. The witness says he was not aware of that. He was never shown nor made aware of the court’s order. Mr. Baez never told him such a thing.
Baez tries to save himself from the wrath of the Judge. He asks the witness If he remembers getting some emails from Baez asking the witness to submit a report. Caesor remembers the emails. Baez asks if the witness remembers that in those emails was the court’s request for a written report containing all the witnesses opinions. Caesor says yes, he remember that. (This guy is a fruitcake. An arrogant fruitcake.)
Baez asks if they met two nights ago. The witness says they did. The witness says that this is when they decided to use this information to rebut Dr. Warren’s testimony. At this meeting was when the witness first learned of the video with the picture/skull/duct tape. This witness thought that this was a misrepresentation and wanted to present the truth. This video representation is “unheard of” as far as this witness is concerned. He says that there is absolutely no scientific way to show where that duct tape was. You could put this duct tape anywhere on the body you want to – it is skeletonized remains that have been moved by wild animals. All even he, the great Caesor, could say is that there is duct tape associated with the head. There’s no way to say with certainty anything other than that.
Baez then starts his argument to the court about it’s order again. He says that when the judge issued the order, he informed all of the defense’s experts, via email, clearly expressing that he needed reports from them including all of their opinions. Up until that point the defense had not requested reports from it’s witnesses. He also told the witnesses that they had a deadline and if that deadline was not met that Baez would suffer dire consequences. Baez says that he was already sanctioned, and he was dead set on meeting all the deadlines. From the time that Baez told this witness he would need a report until the time he actually received the report, was a matter of days. This was a very difficult task for the defense and their experts. And the defense was never given this video and it’s superimposition. The defense never expected this testimony. The judge says “So the witness is misinformed when he says he told you this earlier this year?” Baez says No, but they have talked about a myriad of issues with regards to this cse, and to ask the witness to include everything they’ve talked about would be unrealistic. And this witness won’t testify to everything they talked about. It’s just that Baez showed this witness the video, and the witness said that it was an improper exhibit, and they decided to include this testimony.
Baez also adds that it’s the state’s fault for not deposing this important witness. And the order says that all the witnesses opinions must be in reports or depositions. And the state didn’t depose this witness. Baez says that he asked in a status conference about this – what if the state chose not to depose witnesses – that this would create due process issues. Ashton at that time said that they were going to depose witnesses, but that this wasn’t going to be some trick the defense played with the reports. Baez says that his impression of the earlier status conference is that the state wouldn’t take depositions, and then claim “OMG this wasn’t in the report”, and limit the defense’s ability to have experts testify.
Baez says it shouldn’t be his responsibility to depose his own witnesses, but that he had done so. He sat in on hundreds of depositions because it was his responsibility to. He has also taken depositions while the trial was pending. If the state wants to know everything that a witness is going to say -they should exercise the tools given to them and take depositions themselves.
The judge tells Baez “Basically what you are saying is that you can pick which court orders you comply with and which you don’t comply with. And that’s not going to happen here.”
Baez says he couldn’t disagree more. The judge says that both sides have engaged in “game playing”. And this is not a game. The judge says that the reason the order was put in place was because both sides were engaged in these games at some point. The judge says he did not want to be in the position he is in now – where we have experts with major opinions that are not contained in their report. If an opinion comes about – disclose it. It’s not hard, Mr. Baez. Even if it happens at the last minute.
The judge says he is now faced with “what is the remedy?”
The judge says it is quite ironic that they were supposed to be here this morning about a violation of the rule of sequestration (Ohhhhhhhh!!! What’s that about?? Was that the garbage/trash exchange between the state’s witnesses?) The judge says that it is very harsh to exclude a witnesses testimony. Case law says this is not to be done except in the most aggravated situations. But case law does offer some remedies.
The judge says that this appears to him to be quite intentional. This was not inadvertent or a slip. This was a major opinion that was not disclosed. But Casey Anthony shouldn’t be punished for this. Case law suggests remedies such as contempt, instruction to the jury concerning the violation and letting them use it in judging credibility.
The judge then asks what other opinions this witness is going to testify to that have not been disclosed.
The judge says this is what they are going to do. He asks what other witnesses the defense has available to testify and the defense says Werner Spitz (oh my god.) The judge says that this witness is going to step down. They will continue court until 1:00, then this witness shall be deposed by the state. Then this witness will testify next week Monday. The judge will entertain a possible instruction if the state want to draft one concerning this violation. He will reserve his right to proceed with contempt citations at the end of the trial.
Baez asks the court to look at the response filed by the defense wherein they stated that Caesor would be called to rebut any issues raised by the State in trial. This falls under that category. The judge tells Baez that this is not his first rodeo. (And I hate that saying. My thought is, unless you are wearing a ten gallon hat, a big silver belt buckle and you’re carrying a lasso, yeah, I’m going to assume that this is your first rodeo.) The judge says that he’s tried one or two trials as a lawyer. He knows about surprises and he wants no “gotchya”moments. If Baez knows about any other opinions he will give, he better disclose them. Baez says that he will depose this witness this afternoon – if the state wants to be there they can. The judge says he doesn’t have to take his witnesses deposition – he is making the witness available to the state.
They take a break, come back and proceed. Cheney Mason asks the judge if he can tell the jury something about he “change of faces” on the stand. The judge says “What do you want me to tell them, the truth?” Mason says “well, you can let me do it.”The judge says he’ll let him do it, then let Mr. Ashton get up after him. Mason says as long as he gets the last shot….The judge says OK, he’ll tell them something.
Yeah, it looks like Mason is going to question Spitz. And really, what circle of hell have we just fallen in to? We all remember Werner Spitz from the Spector trial, right? This guy is one of those “experts” who would say that 14 aliens from Neptune came down and shot JFK if someone was paying him to say it. I refer to what he says on the stand as “testi-money”.
I can’t even believe I have to listen to this guy again. I said a novena after he testi-lied in the Spector trial asking to never be subjected to him again. So much for novenas.
Mason asks the witness what his occupation is. Surprisingly (or not) Spitz doesn’t actually admit to being a hired mouthpiece. He says he is a medical doctor and forensic pathologist. Which you know is bullshit, right? When was the last time this guy ever saw a patient or did an autopsy? In the 1930’s? The guy is 155 years old and ate up with the shakes. You going to let this guy examine you? He’d kill you with a tongue depressor.
Spitz graduated from medical school in Switzerland 15 years before I was even born (just to show you I’m not kidding when I say this guy is as old as the Alps.) Then he transferred to some school in Jerusalem before the state of Israel was even established. He hems and haws and stutters with his answers so much that when he ummm…ummm’d while saying “In Jerusalem before…before…um….before…” I really thought he was going to say “before Jesus was born there.”
Even Mason recognizes this guy is probably half senile. He asks the doctor “When was your first academic appointment, doctor, do you remember?” He was paid by the state of Maryland to come to the United States in 1959. So, at least now we know who to blame.
Spitz got involved in this case, he thinks, when Baez’s law firm called him. He was asked to possibly consult with the firm on this case and he was asked if he had special requests…..He asked to attend the autopsy by Dr. G. He was denied. He wanted to attend because it is useful to have seen the body at that time, so he has the same exposure as the pathologist. In addition, there is an advantage to having 2 people look things over together. 4 eyes see more than 2 eyes and he is able to discuss the finding in and on the body at the time the body is there in front of them. It is customary, even in hospital settings, to send slides and specimens to other pathologists to see if they concur or have ideas. It may be life saving – except in dead people.
But he was denied.
Then he conducted a second autopsy, after the official autopsy. He was given access to the remains and conducted the autopsy at the funeral home. Spitz doesn’t remember if Dr. G. had already completed her report when he did his second autopsy. He doesn’t think she did – but he doesn’t really remember.
When Spitz came to Florida, he was ready and equipped with all kinds of tools and gear, but he didn’t bring a saw, because he was absolutely certain that a complete autopsy had already been done. But when he got here, and he looked at the body, it had not been completely done. The skull was intact – and Dr. Spitz believes that any compete and full autopsy requires examination of the interior of the head. (Which, you know, might be true if there was brain tissue – but there was none in this case. I mean, what the hell was there to see on the interior of the skull?)
So, Dr. Spitz opened the skull and examined it. Mason approaches the witness and brings him a big canvas bag. It has a skull in it – not Caylee’s skull, but a real live adult human skull (one has to wonder if he brought that as carry on luggage.)
Spitz took photographs at the second autopsy. Mason puts up an enlarged version of the photograph of Caylee’s severed skull on Baez’s magic easel. Spitz points out the anatomical landmarks for the jury.
On the left side base of the skull is seen is brown flakes. This is the last and permanent remnants of brain decomposition. These are the elemental portions of the brain that won’t decompose – iron, magnesium, chlorides, etc. They indicate the position of the skull during decomposition. This means that the left side of the skull was laying on the ground during the decomposition of the brain.
Spitz says that he reviewed the report that Dr G made of the autopsy and findings. He found some deficiencies in that report. He says he examined the entire skeleton. There were very few bones missing. The skull was not opened so he opened it. He found no fractures, no discolorations of the skull, the skull was undamaged. There was some damage on the long bones due to post mortem animal activity. The thigh bone was opened, he thought due to the collection of marrow for examination for disease, but he learned later that wasn’t the case. He says that the first autopsy could not determine a cause of death, and neither, to an extent, could he.
Spitz was aware that there were some sections of duct tape on the lower face that were loosely placed there. There was not a shred of soft tissue. He had brought with him a bunch of gloves and aprons and things to protect himself during the autopsy and he used none of them, the body was given to him as a complete skeleton. He touched the skeleton without gloves and without an apron.
(As in Spector, this guy must get paid by the word. He fucking rambles and it takes him 40 minutes to say something totally innocuous like “the body was a skeleton.” He has to give a complete diatribe on how he didn’t need gloves, he didn’t need an apron, there was no bone, there was no nerves, there was no bacteria. There was no soft tissue. “Therefore, I would not get contaminated by soft tissue, I would not get contaminated by nerves. I would not get contaminated by bacteria. Consequently, I used no gloves, Consequently, I used no apron…..” Good God.. It’s like a really bad Dr. Seuss parody by some old, boring, rambling fuckwad.).
Spitz says that the pictures of the tape show the tape being on the side of the lower face hanging on hair and roots of vegetation.
Ashton objects saying that the pictures speak for themselves. He’s overruled, but he’s right. You don’t need a fucking forensic pathologist degree from Jerusalem to describe a picture to 12 people. And even better, to describe it as though the 12 people are blind and you just drew the fucking picture yourself. “The tape is on the left side, the roots are coming through the holes, the tape is hanging on but is off on one side……” Why does the jury need the narration? And with such feigned authority? Like he’s the only one in the world who could do justice to this incredibly technical job of interpreting the photograph.
And what’s even more maddening is his constant search for words.”Underneath the surface of the….ummmm….the…..ummmm….the……the….” See, this is why I couldn’t be a juror. Just for witnesses like this. I’d be standing up screaming “SKULL!!! Underneath the surface of the SKULLL you dimwitted old fuck!!!” Then I’d look at Mason and say “Really, Cheney? REALLY?”
In the meantime, Spitz is still describing the photo.
Finally Mason asks the witness about the placement of the duct tape and when that was. Mason says that Dr G concluded that the duct tape was placed before decomposition. Spitz says he has a problem with that. Ummm….Huh??
Spitz says “when duct tape is applied to the skin and the skin decomposes, the duct tape just doesn’t go anywhere, the duct tape doesn’t do anything the duct tape becomes loose on the….ehhhhhh….on the ehhhhhhh……on the…..the….ehhhh…skeletal……structure…..in this case, the face, the only thing that held the duct tape there was the roots and the….ehhhh…..the hair that was originally…..ummmm….(shrug)….I don’t know……in what fashion the duct tape became in contact with this…..there was no….there was no….there was no duct area on…..there was nothing on the bone that suggests duct tape….and there was nothing on the duct tape that would suggest application on the skin, either….so, I have some difficulty with identifying when…..this duct tape was placed ….other than to say that it is my strong feeling and opinion that this duct tape was….uuuuuhhhhh….ummm…perhaps placed there to hold the lower jaw in place…..because if the uhhhhh……..ummmm….uhhh……head……is subjected to as complete a decomposition as it did…..there’s absolutely no trace of flesh on this head….or in this head….if I would have picked this up…..like…..ummmmm…..like this……the lower jaw would have dropped……like I’m going to show you right now. …because this is….this lower jaw is……attached….by….this would be like this……that’s how….well like that…..I would touch this to remove it…..and know what happens……the lower jaw falls off….So….ahhh….being that it fell…..if the duct tape were attached to the skull…..it would have somewhat been held by the roots….and maybe by….ummm…..the fact that there was hair……between the duct tape and the lower jaw….”
That’s a direct quote.
And I have no fucking earthly idea what the hell he just said.
I think he’s saying that someone came along, saw a skeleton and decided to slap duct tape on it’s mouth so the jaw wouldn’t fall off. No, really, I really think that’s what he’s saying! What did you get out of that mess?
And you know, I really feel bad for Cheney Mason. He didn’t try to stop this rambling out of control mess he just kind of stood there like a deer caught in the headlights. Like he couldn’t quite understand why he was standing there offering this crap, but he had no way to stop it. At one point he looked over to the defense table and I really thought he was going to go over to Casey and choke her and scream “CONFESS BITCH!!” in her face.
I’m telling ya, Caesor is looking mighty good right now. Fuck, the pig guy is looking pretty good, too.
Mason finally wakes up and asks Spitz if Spitz would expect DNA to be on the tape if it had been placed across the face. The witness says yes, he would. (Well, he doesn’t just say yes, but I can’t keep direct quoting this guy. I’m sure you’ll thank me, later.)
Spitz says he put duct tape on his arm and when he removed it, he pulled out hair, sometimes with roots. I guess he thinks Caylee had a beard.
Spitz also testifies that decomposition is less in areas that are tight against something like duct tape – or a wall, or tight clothing. (So, I think I will be buried in tight clothes – I’ll look good longer.) And I wonder now if Joan Rivers will never decompose because you know that that face could NEVER get any tighter.
Mason asks him straight out (because this guy has rambled for at least a half hour now – about all kinds of tangents). “So you think that there is no way this tape could have been placed on the face before decomposition?”
Spitz says no, he thinks the duct tape was a later event.
(And I’m DYING to know why and how.)
Spitz then explains adipocere. I think this is the third time the jury has had this explained to them. But, I think this one will be the longest description, anyway.
Spitz says he found no adipocere on this skeleton.
He found no cause of death in this case. He says he can rule out certain things, like a skull fracture, and he doesn’t think it was suicide, but he can’t determine a cause of death. And he can’t rule out accidental death.
Spitz says in this case manner of death is unknown.
He has done 60,000 autopsies. He has been practicing pathology for 56 years.
No more questions.
Cross by Ashton. This should be fun.
Ashton starts out by asking Spitz if a medico-legal evaluation of the cause of death really requires an investigation into many things besides the remains. The witness says that this is correct. Ashton then asks what information about this case the witness was given in order for him to render the opinion he gave in this case.
Spitz says he was given the information about the first autopsy, and the reports from that, he was permitted to go to the scene where the body was found, he went to the house, (“the one where the people who had input into this case”……Ashton said “The Anthony home?” Good God. I wouldn’t have let this old fuck into my house. He might have thought he was back a the Nursing Facility and taken his pants off to relax or something….) and ….welll…that’s about it.
Ashton says that in order to do an adequate medical/legal evaluation to determine manner of death, you really need to know the circumstances surrounding the death, don’t you? Spitz says he knows that. He says he asked questions – of those who knew about the case, they gave him the information that he needed to have. He asked sufficient questions to figure out what was going on here.
Ashton says “Really? Who did you ask?” Spitz says he asked Mr. Baez, and Mr. Mason, and he spoke to the people in the home…..Ashton says the Anthony home? Spitz answers yes, the Anthony home “I don’t remember who those people were…” Which struck me as hilarious, for some reason.
Ashton asks if he had police reports, the witness says yes,yes, he had police reports…..Ashton says “tell me about the police reports…” And you know Ashton is just playing with this guy. Ashton knows this old man isn’t going to remember a fucking thing from any police reports.
The witness says he read the police reports – and Ashton says “Which ones…” and the witness says “I don’t know which ones. I don’t know…I didn’t know there were different kinds….”
You know, this is sad. I’m sad. This is horrible. Spitz should not be on a witness stand. Really. The only reason this guy should be in Florida is to drive his car through storefronts when he steps on the gas instead of the brakes – like the rest of those old people in Florida. He shouldn’t be giving testimony in a death penalty case. I don’t even think Ashton should be allowed to question this guy any further. It’s just not a fair exchange. It’s painful to watch, and it can’t be giving a very good impression of our legal system to first time watchers who’ve never seen a trial before. And the jury has to be feeling sympathetic for Spitz. And they shouldn’t. Because the guy is a douche.
Ashton then asks the witness what the predicating facts of this case are – leading up to the finding of the body – the predicating facts that he used in determining manner of death.
Spitz says there was a lapse of time – a month – between the disappearance of the child and the police report was made.
Ashton asks if the facts of the last time anyone saw the victim extremely important in any medico-legal investigation. And Spitz says of course – that everything has to be evaluated together. But not independently. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle.
Ashton asks Spitz what his understanding is of the events surrounding the last time Caylee was seen alive. Spitz stops and thinks for a long time. Finally he says that he knows that she was allegedly taken to ta babysitter. He asks Ashton “Is that what you mean? I know she was taken to a babysitter…” Ashton says that he just wants the jury to know what facts he based his opinion on – about what he know of the background of this case, which he agrees is essential in determining the manner of death.
Spitz says that he doesn’t know that he had any facts on when she was alive…..he says he cannot recall information that he had that he could recite about what she was doing or what was happening to her when she was alive.
Hey – I told you they should have shut this down 10 questions ago…..
Ashton asks then, if it isn’t true, that Dr. G had significantly more information than he does, in coming to her opinion, that this was a homicide by undetermined means.
Spitz says that he is aware of anything that she put into her report. And it’s a pretty lengthy report, with all the toxicological reports and anthropological reports….so he had all the information she had, because he read the report.
Ashton asks the doctor, then, OK – what did Dr G write in her report regarding the predicating factors of the last time Caylee was seen alive? Spitz says he doesn’t recall.
Ashton asks if it’s common, though, for there to be a summary of facts surrounding the case when pathologists complete their reports. Spitz says he doesn’t do that – but many people do. Ashton asks if it isn’t important, though, to read police reports and witnesses statements, just to get an idea of what was going on that led to this child dying. Spitz says yes, and they do read police reports. Ashton says “But you just told us you don’t remember any of the facts int his case…” And Spitz takes great offense and says that this isn’t true at all…..So Ashton asks him again what he remembers about the facts.
Spitz says it is not true that he doesn’t remember any of the facts in the case – he remembers lots of things that he considered significant in rendering an opinion. Ashton only asked him what he knew about Casey Anthony before she disappeared. (Yeah, he said Casey…) Spitz says he doesn’t remember what she was doing the last day she was alive- he just remembers that she was a healthy 3 year old child.
Ashton then asks him what he remembers of the facts that he felt were significant about the events leading up to her death. (And he doesn’t mention Caylee by name in his question. I think he wants Spitz to say Casey again, to reinforce the fact that he ha no idea what he is fucking talking about.) Spitz says “Not before she was last seen alive…” And Ashton says “Fine. If you didn’t think that was significant, that’s fine – just tell us what you did think was significant.”
Spitz says it was significant that there was a pool in the house – in the yard – that he saw when he was there – which creates a possibility of drowning. And he says he knows that a month went by after the child was missing before it was reported to authorities. He recalls no other facts of significance.
Ashton says that he understands that Spitz considers it a violation of protocol that Dr. G did not open the skull. Ashton wants to know what protocol that is. Spitz hems and haws and ummmm’s and errrrr’s and finally says something about “A child going missing that makes national news”. So I guess that those children have some higher protocol that pathologist’s are to follow.
Ashton finally objects as non-responsive. And Spitz says the head is always opened in cases where the brain and the skull might benefit. (Since there was no brain here – I have no clue what the fuck he is talking about.) He does say that the head is part of the body. And you need to look at it. Just like when you buy a house – you buy a whole house with a basement, not without one. Which is funny, because no one in Florida has a basement.
Spitz stammers on that the head is important in all this. Very important. You don’t buy a house without a living room. The body is a whole entity. There can be all kinds of things in a head.
Ashton asks where this protocol is published.
Spitz says this is not published. Then he says he doesn’t know where it’s published. Then he says that he is a trained….he has trained hundreds of pathologists. And he knows it is published somewhere because he was a member of the committee that wrote it. But he doesn’t know where it is published. Somewhere. It is. Somewhere. He knows that. He’s been out of the mainstream for a while. So he’s not sure. He’s been out for some time now. But to not open the head is a failure. A failure of the autopsy. And if the head is not opened – well that’s a shoddy autopsy. And he’s sorry that Ashton provoked him to say that, but he’s saying it Shoddy. Excuse me. Shoddy. (And damn it, that’s published somewhere – and he knows it – because he wrote it.) and if the head wasn’t opened -well, what else wasn’t opened??
Ashton says he is sorry – he didn’t mean to provoke the doctor. (I mean,no shit – all he asked was where was the protocol published. Who’d have known that this was such a provocative question!! )
Spitz gets quite indignant and says this upsets his better knowledge. It upsets his entire profession that he has now practiced for 56 years.
Ashton finally objects and interrupts his diatribe. Ashton asks if it isn’t true that the skull is opened in a traditional autopsy of non-skeletonized remains to inspect the brain.
Spitz says no, this isn’t the only reason. Ashton asks what other reason there could be? And Spitz says that he never would have known what position the head was in if he hadn’t opened the skull. Ashton says, yeah, we’ll get to that…
Ashton says there is also a protocol for autopsy, and that includes, for instance, cutting the chest open along the ribs, through the sternum, right? And Spitz says “Well, you aren’t going to have access to the chest organs if you don’t open the ribs….” And Ashton agrees and says “So certain protocols that apply to traditional autopsies don’t apply to skeletonized remains. Because you can see what’s in there, because everything else is gone.”
Spitz says “No – do you mean you can look inside the head without opening it?” (And you know, you probably can – can’t you like peek through the eye socket – or like turn the skull upside down?) HA! Ashton says the same thing! “Yeah – isn’t there a little hole right in the bottom?” Spitz says he doesn’t understand, and Ashton withdraws the question.
Ashton picks up a book from the lectern and asks Spitz if he is aware of this book. Spitz says “Somewhat” And Ashton says “Well you wrote parts of it and you edited it.” (Maybe the protocol thing is in here.) Ashton says that this book is a compilation of articles on virtually every subject in the area of the medical and legal investigation of death.” Spitz says he wrote most of the trauma chapters. Ashton says there are chapters on Forensic Anthropology – those are written by William Bass, of the Body Farm. There are articles on Forensic Entomology written by Neal Haskell, Spitz agrees that this is an authoritative source on the medico-legal determination and investigation of death.
Ashton approaches the witness and asks him to point to the place where this book says that the skull has to be opened for an autopsy to be complete.
Spitz says that this book isn’t a book of protocols. This book is book on findings of wounds and what happens to a body after death. This book doesn’t tell you how to do autopsies – it tells you how to interpret wounds. This book will show you that the head is opened in all autopsies because it shows you if there are injuries in the head.
Ashton asks if the chapter on forensic anthropology by William Bass says that the head has to be opened in an autopsy. Spitz again says this isn’t a book on protocols. It talks about wounds – and to find those wounds, the head has to be opened. This book will tell you about the findings – and those are only obtained if you open the head.
Ashton then asks if Spitz is familiar with the Minnesota Protocols. It’s a UN document – the full title being “Manual on Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal Arbitrary and Summary Executions” specifically, section 5, titled “Model Protocol For Dis internment and Analysis of Skeletal Remains.”
Spitz says he knows nothing about this document. He wants to know who wrote it. Ashton says it was drafted in consultation with lawyers for the advocates of human rights, formerly the Minnesota Lawyers International Human Rights Committee. Spitz reads the title page. He says this was written by layers for lawyers, in legalese, and he doesn’t understand legalese.
Ashton has Spitz read one part of the document, and Spitz dismisses it as unimportant and non-authoritative. Ashton then asks Spitz if, when he said that Dr. G didn’t follow protocol, really meant that she didn’t do things the way he would have done them. Because there is no written protocol.
Spitz says that he doesn’t know if there’s a written protocol or not, but he tells Ashton that he can assure him that inspection of the head is part of a complete autopsy. And we are in need of a complete autopsy in a nationally….ummm…nationally…..ummm…..nationally…..ummm…case of national significance. Because this is shown on all televisions, and all newspapers and all talk about this case, therefore don’t you think that an autopsy needs to be done to document all the findings and not go just below the head.
(It seems that Spitz is more up on the media aspects of this case than the actual facts of the case.) Again, Ashton agrees with me. He says to the doctor that this is the second time he’s pointed out the high profile nature of this case. Ashton asks if that’s a significant fact to the doctor. Spitz says “Of course it is significant!” (Good God). Spitz says that this case, because of it’s high profile nature, may require more questions to be answered. Than some 85 year old who is found in bed dead of heart disease.
Ashton asks if the doctor thinks that this case should be done differently than someone who no one knows or cares about.
Spitz says that there are always relatives who care. And there are people in this case who want to know. But that’s not the only reason to open the head -you need to have a complete autopsy.
Spitz says that he has given one interview in this case – a local station interview, and then a local paper in Detroit. Ashton says what about the TV station in Michigan? Yeah, he mentioned that one – when Detroit news found out he was coming down here – they interviewed him. And he gave another interview to a female reporter – Oh, yeah, he remembers that now.
Ashton says that he gave an extensive interview to her – discussing brain dust, tape application, and he was also on the Today show. He doesn’t remember that. He doesn’t remember the 48 Hours interview, either.
Ashton asks if Spitz loves high profile cases. Spitz says every case is high profile (if they have the money to pay him, they are.)
Ashton asks about the Spector case He says Yeah, he was involved with that one, too. And OJ Simpson.
Ashton asks about he residue in the skull. Ashton asks if he broke the skull hen he opened it. Spitz says “I didn’t know that I broke it…” Ashton asks if Spitz had the brain debris tested. He said no, he did no chemical tests. He scraped it and gave it to ..someone…and somebody tested it…..he doesn’t recall….some police lab tested it. He doesn’t know who told him that.
Ashton points out that Spitz doesn’t really know what that debris is – it could be brain dust, or it could just be dirt. Spitz says “Oh, No! It’s not dirt! This is the sediment of a decomposing brain and surrounding soft tissues. By gravity. Believe me! Please believe me…this skull of Casey Anthony….” Ashton cuts in “You mean Caylee Anthony….” (I told you he wouldn’t let Spitz get away with that again – Ashton has been waiting for that…) “….Caylee Anthony is not the first skeletal remains that I’ve opened and found this kind of residue. This is a routine finding and it’s mentioned in my book.”
Ashton says “Yes, but doctor, you can’t really know what this is until you’ve tested it, right?” The doctor says he knows what it is.
Ashton asks the doctor if he was made aware that the area the body was found in is, at least occasionally, under water. The doctor says he knew that. Ashton asks him then. Since the skull could have been submerged, if the doctor is saying that this residue is still brain dust, and there’s no chance that it’s just – sediment? The doctor says yes, it is a sediment – a sediment of the brain decomposing. Ashton says couldn’t it also be sediment from dirty water as the skull sits submerged? Spitz says that this sediment is so common in skeletonized remains, that is is almost as definitive as identifying the lower jaw from the skull. No one needs to run tests to determine the mandibular bone. It speaks for itself – and the brain dust speaks for itself.
Ashton says “OK – so you don’t need to bother to have that sediment analyzed by a chemist or anyone else – you know, without a shadows of a doubt, that that’s brain dust and not just dirt.” Spitz says if someone wants to analyze it -that’s fine with him but until that time, he’ll say it’s brain dust.
Ashton then asks Spitz if he was aware that the skull was washed with saline solution to see if there were any trace elements. Spitz says he is aware that the medical examiner took salty water, put it into the hole of the skull, and swished it around and removed whatever came out. Ashton asks if that swishy water might be why there’s no sediment on one side of the skull. Spitz says no, the reason that there is no sediment on one side is because the sediment has some weight to it and it goes to the lowest point.
Spitz then tells a long rambling story about a California case where he was able to solve a death by opening up the skull and finding sleeping pills in the sediment inside the brain. Ashton says “well, yeah, and you sent that sediment out to be tested right?” And Spitz says that’s because there was someone there to give it to – the prosecutor took the sample. That’s why he should have been allowed into the autopsy with Dr G. then he would have insisted the sediment be tested and we wouldn’t have all this kerfuffle about swishy water.
Ashton then says “But if you had had the sediment analyzed, then we also would have avoided the kerfuffle.” HA! Spitz says “At what laboratory? I don’t have a laboratory. I’m not a chemist. I don’t do tests like that.”
Ashton asks the doctor to put his skull back together. Spitz does. Ashton leans the head on the left side the way Spitz says it was laying. They get into a long discussion about the hair and which way it would fall. Spitz seems to be arguing that the hair would stay on the skull, even after decomposition, while Ashton seems to be arguing in favor of gravity and the fact that the hair would fall back to the ground and not to the side. Coincidentally, that is exactly the way the picture of the skull shows the hair.
Spitz says “Well, this picture you have shows the skull upright,not laying on the left side.” Ashton says “Yes.”
Spitz says most of the hair in the picture is on the base of the skull, not on the ground. But he says the picture speaks for itself – which he certainly didn’t feel of the other skull picture that he had to describe in agonizing detail.
Spritz gets up and shows the jury with his handkerchief and the skull what the picture shows – only he has the hair still present on the top of the skull – which Ashton points out isn’t true in the picture And Spitz won’t agree with that. Ashton tries to get him to see that the hair could fall off the top of the skull and migrate to the base of the skull – Spitz won’t agree with that, either.
Ashton says the long and the short of it is that this picture contradicts his theory that the skull was laying on its left side and Spitz won’t accept that, either. He says “Well, you said the skull could have been underwater – my theory is totally consistent with that.” Ummm….OK.
Ashton then asks the doctor about his loony duct tape theory- where someone (Roy Kronk, I’m sure….) stumbles upon the skull and for some unknown reason happens to have the same rare brand of duct tape the Anthony’s own in their back pocket and slaps three pieces on the skull for no good reason. (You can’t make this shit up, I swear.)
Ashton asks Spitz if it really is his theory that someone put duct tape on the skull after it was decomposed. (Just in case the doctor has come to his senses since his direct examination).
But no, the doctor is still saying that yes, it is his opinion that the duct tape was put on the face after the skin has decomposed.
Don’t you wonder about Jose Baez?? Do you think, like I do, that he’s just been hanging out with Casey Anthony waaaayyyy too long. He’s starting to embrace some really wacky shit as true. I blame her.
Ashton asks the witness: “OK – how did this person do that?” The doctor doesn’t understand. Ashton says it again “How did this person who you hypothesize put duct tape on the skull – how did they do that?”
Spitz says ”well, they took a roll of duct tape and they tore off some pieces and they stuck them on the skull – possibly to do what I did – to attach the lower jaw to the face.” I thought that’s what he said before! Good God That makes no sense! Why would someone (even Roy Kronk) care if the jaw was attached to the face?? It’s not like the reward poster said “REWARD!!! If all her face parts are intact.”
Ashton then walks the witness through his theory to show him how ludicrous it is. Ashton says “OK – the body is laying on it’s left side – and someone comes by – doe she pick the skull up off the ground to attach the duct tape?” The doctor says “I don’t know. I don’t know if the skull was o the ground or if the skull was elevated when the duct tape was applied. That I can not tell you.”(I have a feeling that there’s going to be a lot in this theory that he “can not tell you…”
Ashton then points out that if the skull is laying on it’s side, then someone would have to pick it up in order to attach the duct tape to either side of the front the way it was found. The doctor sort of agrees, yes, maybe that’s so…..
Ashton then points out that when they picked the skull up, the lower jawbone would have stayed on the ground. Because, of course, in a completely skeletonized body, they would be separated. The doctor says well, they are together until someone moves the skull. And Ashton says yes, that’s exactly what he’s saying, that the person would have had to have picked up the mandible, too. And the doctor says “Well unless they are duct taped together.” Ashton says “Well, he hasn’t taped them, yet. Were getting there.”
So now, Ashton says, he has to put these two pieces together in perfect anatomical position. And Spitz says “Well, I don’t know, I don’t’ know how well they were attached.” Ashton says Do you remember the reports of the ME and the forensic anthropologist who said that the two pieces were in perfect anatomical position.? Ashton continues: So this person would have had to have taken the jaw, put it back in perfect anatomical position, correct? The witness agrees.
Ashton continues: Then he would have had to have taken the duct tape and placed it around the bone…Spitz then interjects – on one side….Ashton says the reports say the duct tape was around both sides. Spitz says that the pictures don’t show that. Ashton says “Well if you are trying to attach the mandible to the skull – you would have to tape both sides…right?” Spitz says he only remembers duct tape on one side – if Ashton says it was on both sides….okay…” Ashton says – but according to your theory, that some person was trying to attach the mandible to the skull, they would have to tape both sides, wouldn’t they? Spitz says “If they want a better bond, yes.”
Ashton then asks why the person used three pieces of duct tape. Spitz says that there were two pieces of duct tape superimposed over each other, and the pieces weren’t terribly long so there were probably two pieces to reach the side.
Ashton asks the witness to assume for the purposes of this discussion that the pieces of duct tape were 6 to 8 inches long – and there were three
Spitz says yeah, the third piece was 9 feet away. And Ashton says – the fourth piece was nine feet away.
Ashton asks why there is no glue residue on the skull.
Spitz says there is no glue residue But when he put duct tape on his arm, there was hair on the duct tape, but no glue on his arm Ashton says that this is bone, not skin. And Spitz asks why bone would be any different.
Ashton says “You do realize that the duct tape wasn’t actually stuck to the bone when it was found, right” Spitz agrees. Ashton wants to know, under this doctor’s theory, why the duct tape isn’t still stuck to the bone. Spitz says because of the intervention of water.
So, Ashton says, this person came to the site, fund the skull, put duct tape on it, and left the skull where it was?
Or took it with him to apply the duct tape and returned it at a later date, Spitz opines. Ashton asks “Then why is the hair the only thing that is stuck to the tape?” But Spitz doesn’t concede that the hair is stuck to the tape – he thinks that the adhesiveness of the tape is long gone.
Ashton asks Spitz if he remembers from the autopsy report that Dr Utz had to cut the tape to get it to be removed from the duct tape. Spitz says “Well, yeah, some of the hair would be stuck and some would not be.”
So then, Ashton goes on, this person who came to the site, picked up the skull and mandible, put it in perfect anatomical position, attached duct tape,and then put the skull back down and draped strands of hair over the skull.
Spitz’s theory is that the medical personnel draped the hair. Whoever took the picture – or staged the scene for the photographer.
Ashton is kind of incredulous. So you are saying that the medical examiner’s office personnel staged this scene and draped these hairs for the photograph?
Spitz says “It wouldn’t bet he first time Sir. I can tell you some horror stories. (Not that, you know, he isn’t telling us one now…)
Ashton leaves the podium. I think he’s had enough.
Mason asks Spitz about opening the skull during autopsy and the reasons for doing so. Mason wants to know what those reasons are. Spitz says one reason would be to identify fractures that don’t go all the way through to the outside of the skull. Another reason would be hemorrhage. Spitz says sometimes asphyxiation can cause a hemorrhage inside the brain that will leave a discoloration on the bones on the interior of the skull.
Mason asks about he toxicology report and the lack of findings. And how the skull was “positioned” to have photographs taken, and how someone would have had to have moved it because the skull was on brown paper for the purpose of photographing it.
Spitz is done Thank God, His testimony was a kerfuffle.