Location of Shotgun Wound

The autopsy report states that there was a contact wound of the soft palate.


  • The soft palate is one of the most highly sensitive tissues in the body, and is characterized by the "gag reflex" to help prevent choking.
  • The width of the end of the muzzle of the shotgun is just under two inches.
  • The width of an adult soft palate and adjacent oral cavity is just over one inch.


  • It would be impossible to self-inflict a contact wound to the soft palate. The gag reflex would prevent this.
  • Therefore, self-inflicted intraoral shot gun wounds are to the hard palate which is the roof of the anterior portion of the oral cavity and can result in "blowing off the top of the head".

The victim had to have been unconscious when the shotgun was forcefully jammed into his mouth and fired!