The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie
-- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest --
but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.
John F. Kennedy
In her book "Time of Death, The True Story of the Search for Death's Stopwatch" published in 2001, experienced pathologist Jessica Snyder Sachs makes the following observations on the use of stomach contents.
Pages 7 - 8
"It's ( time of death ) one of the most common questions I get," echoed Missouri medical examiner Jay Dix forty years later. "I have to tell them -- it's impossible." Yet Dix -- one of the nation's top pathologists and the author of the 1999 forensic atlas Time of Death, Decomposition, and Identification -- sees it done all the time. "I'm continually reviewing cases in which pathologists pinpoint death to within a few hours," he said "Not that I've ever seen a case where it was appropriate"
"The conviction hinged largely on a medical examiner's opinion that the victim had died during a half hour interval when the two were together, a determination based solely on the food removed from the girl's stomach at autopsy. Today most prudent pathologists scoff at the naivety, if not misconduct, of anyone claiming to pin-point time of death so precisely based on stomach contents. ( Even Baden gives a fudge factor of plus or minus two hours in his determinations )"
In relation to the O.J. Simpson case
"When challenged, both experts had to admit that the quantity and quality of stomach contents had long ago been dismissed as the most unreliable of all postmortem time scales. Such grasping at straws would continue to be part of medical expert testimony when all else failed."
If you are interested in Jessica Snyder Sachs' book, Time of Death, you can buy it online from Barnes & Noble.
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