The Autopsy
The autopsy was performed at the Orange County Sheriff/Coroner's medical examiner's facility (California) on January 22, 1991. The following observations were taken directly from the autopsy report and autopsy photos:
  1. Gunshot wound (entry type) in roof of mouth. No exit wound. Contact wound to soft palate.
  2. Large amount of aspirated blood in the right lung.
  3. Left lung weighs 440 grams, the right weighs 970 grams [normal adult male is 400 to 450 grams.
  4. Section of the lung tissue shows congested, atelectactic, edematous, hemorrhagic lung with extrusion of hemorrhagic frothy fluid.
  5. Pharynx shows a superficial laceration of the right side of the pharyngeal wall.
  6. All brain tissue is massively lacerated.
  7. No intact brainstem could be identified including medulla, cerebellar tissue, midbrain, pons, cerebral peduncles. A remnant of medulla appeared in the foramen magnum at the base of the skull that was contiguous with spinal cord. Upper portion of spinal cord shows evidence of disintegration.
  8. Cerebral cortex is massively lacerated.
  9. Ecchymosis behind right ear. Ecchymosis around both eyes.
  10. Superficial contusions and lacerations of the lips. Laceration of the anterior [ventral] surface of the tongue and mid tongue area.
  11. Skull X-rays show a large depressed occipital skull fracture. There is a large subcutaneous and subgaleal hematoma over the depressed occipital skull fracture.
Figure 3

Figure 3. (a) X-ray of the victim’s skull from the right side showing a depressed right occipital fracture; arrow points to the depressed fracture of the occipital region of the skull behind the right ear. The small bright objects are shotgun pellets. (b) The back of the head prior to cleaning; the dark red pattern on the back of the head is blood. The blood came mainly from the mouth and nose and flowed to the back of the head during transport of the body for autopsy at the Orange County Sheriff/ Coroner’s Office. The swollen area on the back of the head and neck is outlined by blood; the posterior of the right pinna not covered by blood shows ecchymosis typical of “Battle’s sign” (see text). (c) Autopsy image with the victim’s reflected scalp revealing part of the hematoma that had formed over the depressed skull fracture.

Skull Fracture: A 2.5 cm diameter, depressed (approximately 2 cm) occipital skull fracture was demonstrated on autopsy x-rays (Fig. 3a). A photograph taken prior to the autopsy (Fig. 3b) demonstrates massive swelling of the right posterior head and neck. A hematoma was discovered immediately under that swollen area (Fig. 3c) and immediately over the depressed skull fracture. All the shotgun pellets were located within the confines of the skull. There were no bone fragments or shotgun pellets within the hematoma. The x-ray (Fig. 3a) shows the fractured bone protruding inwardly not outwardly as would occur if the fracture was the result of the intraoral shotgun wound.