Tuesday, June 9, 2015
Yesterday, we posted the fifth episode of the Undisclosed Podcast: Autoptēs. For those of you wondering, Autoptēs is the Greek work that provides the origin for the English word autopsy. Autoptēs means eyewitness/to witness with ones own eyes.
I again want to thank Dr. Leigh Hlavaty for the time she put into reviewing the medical evidence in the case and rendering her expert opinion. Obviously, her biggest finding was that Hae could not have been buried on her right side in Leakin Park in the 7:00 hour given the lividity evidence. That said, I think her conclusion that Hae couldn't have been "pretzeled up" in the trunk of her Nissan Sentra for 4-5 hours after death is of near equal importance.
While lividity becomes fully fixed approximately 8-12 hours after death, it partially fixes within hours after death. Assume that Hae was on her side (or anything other than fully prone) in the Sentra for 4-5 hours, then put face down for another 4-5 hours, and then buried on her right side in Leakin Park. In that case, there would be what is known as "mixed lividity," "dual lividity," or "second lividity." In other words, there would be some lividity on the side and some on the front. This is described a bit in the Report of Lee Ann Grossberg, M.D. in Kiniun v. Minnesota Life Insurance Company, 2011 WL 7266761 (N.D.Fla. 2011):
6. At 10:07 am, approximately 3 1/2 hours after Ms. Strickland was found deceased, the livor mortis was noted to remain fixed when manual pressure was applied.
a. Lividity generally takes 30 minutes to 2 hours to become visible and about 8 - 12 hours to become fully fixed (although this range is highly variable). After the lividity become fixed, it remains so.
b. The finding of lividity that does not blanch with pressure can indicate that the livor mortis is partially or fully fixed.
i. If the livor mortis is only partially fixed, moving the body to a different position will yield a second lividity pattern.
ii. Ms. Strickland was found dead lying on her front right side and the lividity pattern at the scene was consistent with this body position (the lividity was on her front right side).
iii. However, if Ms. Strickland were turned over onto her back to be placed into the body bag and her lividity were not fully fixed, she would develop a secondary livor mortis pattern on her back. The autopsy report describes the lividity fixed and as anterior, but I have not had access to the autopsy photos to see if an additional lividity pattern is also present on the back. Secondary lividity patterns can be lighter than primary ones and darkly pigmented skin makes visual inspection of lividity more difficult to discern than in lighter pigmented individuals, however.