If the death certificate was accurate, then the following would have likely occurred:

The victim committed suicide by sitting in a lawn chair while holding a 12 gauge shotgun in his mouth with his left hand. He pushed the trigger of the shotgun with a finger or thumb of his right hand. The position of the body suggests, in this scenario, while he was sitting in the lawn chair, the butt of the shotgun had to be on the ground adjacent to the lateral side of his right ankle (Fig. 2a). The victim somehow fell to his right from the chair after the shotgun discharged and the chair toppled on top of him.

On the other hand, if death was by homicide, what follows would have likely occurred:

The victim received a blow to the back of his head, which caused a large depressed skull fracture and a severe brain and brainstem injury. The bludgeoning was fatal. The assailant thrust a shotgun into the victim’s mouth and discharged the left barrel (Fig. 2b). The shotgun was then placed in front of and partially under the victim. Then a lawn chair was placed on top of the victim to complete the suicide appearance.
Figure 2

Figure 2. (a) Reenactment of the suicide scenario where the victim sat in a chair and inserted the shotgun into his mouth; the muzzle is gripped by the left hand while the right hand reaches down to depress the trigger. The shotgun was found close to the body, partly under the right leg (Fig. 1). This would place the shotgun in the reenactment on the outside of the right leg. In this scenario, blowback from the mouth would spray the thighs (arrows) with blood and tissue. (b) Reenactment of the homicide scenario where the shotgun is inserted into the mouth of the victim by the assailant after the blunt force trauma to the back of his head. The position of the right hand is probably incorrect in this image; it was likely nearer the mouth (as shown in Fig. 1) when the shotgun blast occurred. Arrows: direction of the blowback when the shotgun muzzle is in the mouth.

Evidence necessary to support a suicide theory should depend upon the unconditional lack of evidence of homicide. In this case, the autopsy report, skull x-rays, crime scene and autopsy photos, support homicide; this victim received a powerful blow to his head which rendered him unconscious and caused a depressed skull fracture prior to the intraoral shotgun blast.