Friday, June 12, 2015
For the past week, I've been trying to find a case involving lividity and a body in a trunk. The only case that I was able to find is State v. Persitz, 518 N.W.2d 843 (Minn. 1994). The Persitz case isn't especially factually similar to the Adnan Syed case, but it does provide some interesting points of comparison/contrast.
Persitz was a murder trial. I'm not going to go into the full facts of the case, but there was a dispute between the prosecution and defense over what the defendant did with the victim's body after killing him (the defendant raised an insanity defense). According to the defendant, on January 28, 1991, he (1) killed the victim; (2) put his body in the trunk of his car; (3) dumped the body in a park later the same night; (4) returned to the park the next morning and put the body back in the trunk; (5) tried to bury the body at a compost site but couldn't because the ground was frozen; and finally (6) used a hatchet he kept in his car to cut off the victim's head and hands so that the victim couldn't be identified and/or couldn't haunt him.
By way of contrast,
The county medical examiner testified that the evidence of lividity was consistent with the body having remained on its side in the same position for eight to twelve hours after death. The state argued that this evidence contradicted appellant's testimony that he moved the body from his trunk to a parking lot in a park. The medical examiner also concluded that some of the marks left by the dismemberment were probably made by a saw. The state argued that this showed planning, and that appellant lied when he testified that he used only a hatchet that he kept in his car to dismember the body.
Again, this case doesn't look a lot like the Adnan Syed case, but it did involve the claim that the victim's body was placed in a trunk and then dumped in a park. What the case does have is two things consistent with what I've been told by a number of experts: (1) a body in a trunk for at least a few hours will almost certainly result in (at least some) side lividity; and (2) a body needs to be in the same position for about 8-12 hours for there to be a single pattern of fixed lividity.