EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Case Involving Death of Child Has Livor Mortis, Algor Mortis & Cell Tower Issues

According to an article in the Seattle Times,

Tatiana Baker and her boyfriend, DeMarco Jackson, waited more than seven hours before summoning help for Baker’s 3-year-old daughter, who was already dead from a savage beating by the time medics arrived at their Auburn apartment Tuesday night, according to King County prosecutors.

The charging documents in the case indicate that

a man called 911 just before 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, telling a dispatcher the 3-year-old was dehydrated and vomiting. He gave the operator an address in Seattle, though the 911 computer system showed his cellphone was pinging off a cell tower in Auburn, the charges say. The phone call was disconnected, and when the operator called back, a woman told the dispatcher aid was not needed, charging papers say. Auburn police and medics responded to an address on 28th Street Southeast but couldn’t find the 911 caller.


A second 911 call was made from the same cellphone at 9:45 p.m., and Jackson stated he was performing CPR on the girl, the charges say. Medics arrived at their apartment complex at 420 23rd St. S.E. and quickly determined the girl "was deceased, possibly for some time, since postmortem lividity was observed and her body was cold to the touch."

So, did the victim die at or around 2:30 P.M.? It's tough to know without learning whether the victim's lividity was fully fixed or merely partially fixed? And what about the fact that the victim's body was cold to the touch? I've written before about livor mortis and rigor mortis, but there is a third "mortis" that can be used to estimate time of death: algor mortis, the cooling of a body after death. During the first hour or so after death, a body does not cool much below its typical temperature. Thereafter, between hours 2-6, a body tends to cool about 1.5 degrees per hour. Generally skin starts feeling "cold to the touch" about 2-4 hours after death (6-8 hours in protected areas).



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I am Tatiana's uncle, she was such a sweet child, how could this happen? I have not seen her in years, as her mother, my sister, was on the run due to warrants for felonies.Thank goodness my parents are not alive to see this.

Posted by: David | Jul 20, 2015 6:36:06 PM

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