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Sunday, January 08, 2023

Sunday Synopsis

 

A Question of Murder: Compelling Cases from a Famed Forensic PathologistA Question of Murder: Compelling Cases from a Famed Forensic Pathologist by Cyril Wecht
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was an interesting book. The author, Cyril Wecht, a pioneer of forensic pathology, who has been consulted on many prominent cases including those involving celebrities and other infamous people such as Jon Benet Ramsey, Laci Peterson, Nicole Brown Simpson, John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley, and Kurt Cobain, to name a few. He has examined thousands of bodies and testified in hundreds of titles. In this book, he and his co-author, true crime journalist Dawna Kaufmann, share five cases he has worked on.


First is the case of Daniel Wayne Smith, Anna Nichole Smith's 20 year old son. The second was Anna Nicole Smith's death. They occured within months of eachother and within months of Anna's daughter's birth, so these two parts are connected in many ways. Were drugs in their system that could have caused their deaths, or was something more sinister happening? 

Stephanie
Danielle

The third case is about 12 year old Stephanie Crowe who was stabbed to death in her own bedroom. The fourth case is that of Danielle Van Dam whose neighbor David Westerfield is serving time for, but did he really do it? There is disagreement among experts.


The last case was eye-opening to me because I remember it happening, and it occurred in one of our neighboring states, Louisiana around the time Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans. A doctor and two nurses have been accused of purposely killing many elderly patients who they felt they were going to be unable to evacuate. It is really sickening, if true, and Wecht, who consulted on the case, knows quite a bit more than the general public about what happened at Memorial Medical Center. Statistics show a higher percentage of death among the elderly than other similar hospitals, but you can read and evaluate the evidence to determine your own opinion.


I liked how the authors spent time building their characters, especially toward the beginning of the book. They humanize and describe them well. For instance... "And while women of Marilyn's era seldom got tattoos or body art, Anna's body was a virtual canvas..." They are also very specific in describing the medical point-of-view. For example, "an extensive sive blood clot along the wound tract. Wound I was in the left anterior axillary fold, or under the armpit..."

Cyril Wecht

I do have to say that Dr. Wecht is arrogant. Maybe he has the right to be! But he states that he does double the number of autopsies a day than his counterparts. He also writes... "I had written a book on the case several years ago and instantly recognized what few in the media or the Boulder district attorney's office seemed to be thinking-that Karr was a false confessor." Instantly recognized! I also don't like how the book is written from his point-of-view, his expertise, his knowledge, so when he occasionally refers to his co-author, I think it's just to remind the reader that he is superior. Perhaps he is. He's a doctor, lawyer, cornoner, pathologist, expert witness, and the author of 32 books.

Dawna Kaufmann

He says this about one of his contemporaries: "Dr. James Young, former chief coroner of the province of Ontario, Canada, who was the current president of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, a post I had held some years before. He likes to toot his own horn. Take this for example: "As word got out that we five were working on the Memorial Hospital pital case, someone good-naturedly referred to us as "The Forensic All-Stars..."

Even so, it is a good book. There is some medical jargon, but he tends to explain it as he tells the stories, and I like that it was divided into 5 manageable sections. As of now, Wecht is 90 years old and still practicing forensic pathology.



View all my reviews


1 comment:

  1. What happened after Katrina was awful. I have awful memories of what we went through, personally and as a community. It might be hard for me to read this book, although i do like your review.

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