Gateway murder trial

Posts Tagged ‘Rebecca Hamilton

Hamilton cont’d **Strong content**

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The defense is now questioning Rebecca Hamilton, Medical Examiner.

Defense Exhibit 12 – photo of Steven on his stomach at autopsy.

Exhibit 13 – photo of the gunshot wound on Steven’s head.

Exhibit 14 – photo of Steven on autopsy table, on his stomach

Hamilton says they never determine time of death. Garber asked if Steven could’ve died at 3 a.m. and she said yes.

Lividity was not fixed at the scene.

Garber is asking about who attended the autopsy from the LCSO…He’s asking about the spot on Steven’s back, which was discolored. She  determined there were no injuries to Steven’s upper back.

She’s now looking at the log from when the Steven and Michelle were brought to the morgue. They were brought in at 2:30 p.m.

Now Garber is asking about Michelle’s injuries and whether they were consistent with consensual sex. She says there’s no real test to determine whether sex was consensual or not.

Now Garber is asking about the distance between the suspect and Steven’s gunshot wound. She says it was not a contact or near contact wound. garber asks if it’s possible he was shot from three inches away. She says it’s possible, but doesn’t believe the stippling is consistent with it. She says it depends on the weapon.

Garber is asking whether or not Michelle was unconcious after the first blow, but she says there is no way for her to know.

He wants to know if she measured the amount of blood in Steven’s lung. She says it’s impossible to measure that because of the makeup of the lungs.

He asks if an unconcious person feels pain. She says no.

He asks if it was possible Michelle had consensual sex. She says yes.

He asks again if it’s possible the victims died at 3 a.m. and she says yes.

Now the prosecution is redirecting.

He’s asking her about whether or not Steven had anything in his hand when he died. She says there is not any evidence of that based on the lividity.

McGruther is asking Hamilton about the gunshot wound to Steven. She’s explaining the difference between a close gunshot wound and a gunshot wound from a distance.

Hamilton testifies her medical opinion that the injuries to Michelle’s face happened before she was asphyxiated.

Defense redirecting

Garber asks about the jewelry and evidence obtained at MEs office. (it was given to LCSO)

Hamilton is excused from witness stand.


Written by Melissa Hudson

October 6, 2008 at 11:33 am

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Hamilton cont’d ***Strong content***

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Believes Michelle died in another position. She believes her head would’ve been closer to the pool of blood. There’s no blood underneath her head.

Which means Michelle may have been on her left side and pulled by her right arm to her back. That’s how she could’ve ended up in the position she was found (on her back with her legs spread towards the doorway)

Exhibit 38 – Blue nightgown Michelle was wearing – entered into evidence.

State done with witness…we’re in recess.

Written by Melissa Hudson

October 6, 2008 at 10:48 am

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Hamilton cont’d **Strong content**

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There were bruises on both her right hand and around her right wrist, and third finger. On her left hand there were injuries to her third finger and thumb and scratches around her nailbeds. All consistent with defensive wounds.

Performed a pelvic exam – scratches to her externally. Consistent with blunt impact injuries. Could be consistent with consensual sex. She suspects Michelle may have been sexually assaulted but there is no conclusive evidence of sexual assault.

On her neck – she had multiple injuries, scratches and bruises. Consistent with asphyxia. Traumatic asphyxia – consistent with strangulation with hands, arm, or some other item.

Her brain was also swollen (consistent with lack of oxygen to the brain). Not consistent with accidental death or suicide.

Her cause of death – traumatic asphyxia and blunt head trauma.

Michelle’s death certificate entered into evidence. Exhibit 44.

Written by Melissa Hudson

October 6, 2008 at 10:40 am

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Hamilton – cont’d **Strong content**

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Hamilton is going to testify about Michelle’s autopsy now.

She was wearing a silky blue nightgown. Now he’s showing a photo of the nightgown and the bloody handprint on her nightgown. (Exhibit 35)

Imprint suggestive of a hand – outline of four fingers – she thinks it was a gloved hand.

Now we’re going over the external exam of Michelle

She had multiple blunt impact injuries to the head and face. (Blunt force – hit with an object). Bruises, scratches and cuts. She had bruises, cuts and scratches, multiple impacts to her face.

These can be a hand, butt of a gun, or another object.

Two cuts, so deep you can see the skull – two impacts to her forehead. Each scratch is an impact. Eye swollen, nose has scratches, cuts to her lips, and scratches on the back of her head.

How many times was she struck? It was at least several times.

Not inconsistent with a butt of the gun (the wounds on the forehead).

None of the injuries were lethal or life threatening, but impaired. She could have survived from the injuries.

Her left shoulder was also hit and had bruises on her arm and her right arm.  Her right arm was dislocated – couldn’t tell if it was before or after death. Consistent with someone yanking her out of bed or pulling her.

She’s now talking about Michelle’s hands, which were bagged at the scene. The bags were not opened until at the ME’s office.

33a and b (right) and 34a and b (left) – close up of Michelle’s hands at autopsy.

There was also bruising on Michelle’s hands.

They clipped her fingernails and those are turned over to police. (Cooper’s DNA was found under Michelle’s fingernails from her right hand).

Exhibits 36 and 37 entered into evidence (Fingernail clippings from Michelle’s hands).

Written by Melissa Hudson

October 6, 2008 at 10:29 am

Posted in Day 4

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Hamilton – cont’d – **Strong content**

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Wound wasn’t lethal, could’ve been unconcious or concious for a time.

No way to determine how long he lived after gunshot, aspiration (breathed in blood), swallowed and coughed blood up.

This is significant because we never knew he lived for a time after the gunshot. But it does explain the amount of blood on the bed and the floor.

Steven was lying on left side when he was shot

Cause of death – gunshot wound to the head.

(It also sounds like Steven was involved in a struggle before his death).

Exhibit 43 – Steven’s death certificate.

Written by Melissa Hudson

October 6, 2008 at 10:06 am

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Rebecca Hamilton cont’d – *strong content*

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She’s going over two pieces of evidence, which are evidence numbers 39 and 41 – blood samples from Michelle and Steven.

LCSO obtained trace evidence and photos on the bodies before autopsy. They used super glue and alternate light source. Turns out there was no injury to Steven’s back. (They had thought there was a footprint on steven’s back but it was merely a “birthmark”)

Documented external injuries then moved on to internal examination.

First, they’re talking about Steven – He had three areas of trauma. Lethal wound on his head – gunshot wound entered on the right side of his face near his ear. It was intermediate range (36 inches away) – meaning the person was shot from around 18-36 inches away. [which means the suspect was on Michelle’s side of the bed – there wasn’t three feet on Steven’s side of the bed.]

Bullet went through the sinus cavities, didn’t enter the brain, and then exited in his left cheek.

Exhibits 30 and 31 – Steven photos at autopsy.

Because of the distance between the gun and Steven’s gunshot wound, it would be extremely unlikely Steven could have shot himself. (Person can’t shoot themselves from 18-36 inches away)

The blood went into his lungs and caused a fracture of the brain and bleeding of the brain.  couldn’t breathe because of the blood in his lungs and the fact blood couldn’t get to his brain.

Now Hamilton is talking about the lividity – pooling of the blood. Saw that the lividity at the scene was not completely fixed.

She cannot tell definitively the time of death. (McGruther asked if it was consistent with a death of midnight)

Steven also had an injury to his hip (which could have occurred when he fell)

There was bruising on his hands and wrist, consistent with someone grabbing Steven’s hands and wrist – (McGruther asked if it was consistent with someone being yanked to the floor and she said yes)

His right lower abdomen about to turn green (because of intestines). Not inconsistent with death around midnight.

Written by Melissa Hudson

October 6, 2008 at 10:02 am

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Rebecca Hamilton called

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She’s the Chief Medical Examiner for Lee, Hendry and Glades counties.

Three physicians in the office perform autopsies.

She’s explaining her qualifications for being a ME and the fact she’s qualified as an expert witness. (Nothing exciting there)

[McGruther is asking the questions for the state]

Written by Melissa Hudson

October 6, 2008 at 9:35 am

Posted in Day 4

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