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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Casey Anthony defense expert disagrees with Dr. G on duct tape, autopsy report

Casey Anthony defense expert disagrees with Dr. G on duct tape, autopsy report

In a surprise move by Casey Anthony’s defense, an expert has challenged the findings of Orange County Medical Examiner  Jan C. Garavaglia, also known as Dr. G, she also hosts the Discovery Health program Dr. G. Medical Examiner.  On December 19, 2008, Dr. G held a press conference, live from Orlando, Florida, confirming the remains of Caylee Anthony had been found.  Through additional forensic analysis and tests she concluded that Caylee Anthony’s skeletonized remains had deteriorated to the point that an exact cause of death could not be determined and in her final autopsy report she stated duct tape had been placed on Caylee Anthony’s mandible,  indicating that Caylee had duct tape placed over her mouth and nose.

The official autopsy was conducted from December 11, 2008 until December 23, 2008.  Dr. G stated in the original autopsy report under findings, “Several overlapping pieces of duct tape, over the anterior portion of the lower skull, including mandible and a portion of the maxilla.”  Under the statement, two notes were indicated stating, “Duct tape still attached to scalp hairs,” and “Mandible still in approximate anatomic position with no visible attached soft tissue beneath the duct tape.”

The report findings were picked up by media worldwide and added to the sensationalism of the crime.  Did Casey Anthony wrap duct tape around Caylee’s mouth and nose.  Continuing with the report, Dr. G concluded, “Although there is no trauma evident on the skeleton, there is duct tape over the lower facial region still attached to the head hair.  This duct tape was clearly placed prior to decomposition, keeping the mandible in place.”  These findings were directly challenged by M.D. Werner U. Spitz of Forensic Pathology and Toxicology in Michigan.

Dr. Werner wrote a letter to Casey Anthony’s lead defense attorney, Jose Baez (read the letter below Caylee Anthony’s autopsy report in the video player below) that states Dr. Spitz performed a second autopsy on Caylee’s remains on December 23, 2008 and December 24, 2008.  Dr. Spitz writes that he read the first autopsy report by Dr. G, and disagreed with her findings, specifically stating that there was no DNA evidence from Caylee Anthony present on the duct tape.  He also questioned whether the duct tape had been placed on Caylee’s skull, keeping the mandible in place as indicated in Dr. G’s autopsy report.

Dr. Spitz wrote, “Review of the report of autopsy performed by the Chief Medical Examiner of District Nine, Orlando, Florida and photos all indicate that duct tape was adherent to the hair and not the mandible, therefore if the skull was once lying on its left side, as clearly evidenced by the location of the sediment, it is highly unlikely that both the skull and the mandible, which would have been disarticulated during decomposition, would roll back to an almost perfect anatomical position.

Dr. Werner specifically stated that Dr. G’s following conclusions were flawed and explained why he believes so.  He wrote in the letter, “Because of the above mentioned findings, this calls into question the statement made by Dr. Garavagila that, ‘Although there is no trauma evident on the skeleton, there is duct tape over the lower facial region still attached to head hair.  This duct tape was clearly placed prior to decomposition, keeping the mandible in place.’  This statement is flawed for the following reasons:

a.        The evidence found at 2nd autopsy as described above
b.       The DNA results of the duct tape yielded no DNA from the deceased
c.        The lack of entomological evidence found on the duct tape is also inconsistent with the duct tape being placed over any orifice that would have attached to the duct tape during decomposition (skin would be expected to adhere to the duct tape).

The last finding by Dr. Spitz may prove to be crucial in trial.  Dr. Spitz is stating that if duct tape was placed on Caylee Anthony’s body before decomposition, skin (as well as DNA evidence) would be present on the tape.  Both agree it is not.

There is great possibility that Casey Anthony’s May 4, 2011 trial may see heavy focus placed on the duct tape.  If the defense can prove that Casey Anthony did not wrap duct tape around Caylee’s face, nose and mouth; there may be reasonable doubt in the juror’s minds that Casey intentionally murdered Caylee, therefore lessening the chance of the death penalty.

Will the state prove the duct tape came from the Anthony home?  Will the duct tape prove to have been placed on Caylee Anthony’s body as part of the murder or was it part of the debris lying on the ground, possibly moved by wind, floods and animals?  How will the defense explain the duct tape attached to Caylee Anthony’s hair?  How important is the duct tape to the state’s case?  These questions will be answered during Casey’s trial; but there is no doubt that the defense has challenged the state’s theory of events that transpired with Dr. Spitz’ findings.


Read Caylee Anthony autopsy report by Dr. G and Dr. Werener Sptiz' findings.  Click to play and read the reports



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