Wednesday, October 03, 2007

All Together Now… DUH!

If you ever find yourself on trial for murder, there are certain things that can really help your case. And finding an expert witness who does not make the mistake of looking like a complete idiot on the stand is important.

Courtesy of my good friend John McFetridge (Toronto novelist John McFetridge has studied at the knee of Elmore Leonard and taken away lessons that I wish more Canadian novelists would. Dirty Sweet is an amusingly sordid tale that features amusingly sordid people … you can’t read it for long without a smile coming across your lips. If more people wrote the kind of clean-as-a-whistle, no-fat prose McFetridge does, this reviewer would finish a lot more of their books.”— David Gilmour, National Post, Saturday May 13, 2006) comes this juicy little story, and as he said to me, if you wrote this in a book you’d be taken to task for how unbelievable it is.

From the Toronto Star:

It was – how to put this? – a pathological boner, stand-up (or sit-down, in this case) ba-da-boom comedy.
Not that forensic pathologists are, by nature, a barrel of laughs. They deal in the minutiae of death, after all, getting down into the squishy stuff of tissue and organs and bodily secretions.
But Dr. Arkady Katsnelson, sworn in as an expert witness for the defence in the first-degree murder trial of Rick Wills, verily tripped on a banana peel, or fell on his scalpel yesterday whilst explaining the odd markings on Linda Mariani's neck, allegedly evidence of the skipping rope that had been wound about her throat.
Helpfully using a pointer, Katsnelson drew the jury's attention to a trio of lesions, vivid red on the slide that was being shown. "In my opinion, it is some kind of artificial marks. It is not marks from a skipping rope.''
Artificial markings, all right. They were strokes drawn onto the slide by an earlier police witness, indicating triple "furrows'' in what remained of Mariani's skin. The expert witness had mistaken red highlighter for wounds. And the little arrows pointing to the strokes, these Katsnelson couldn't explain at all, describing them as "shovels'' in the flesh. Further: "This is not consistent with strangulation because the marks are so short.''
Confusion gave way to disbelief as prosecutor Harold Dale rose to his feet.
"He's talking about evidence that isn't evidence.
"He's opining about lines that were put there by another witness. It's highlighter! It's not a furrow, it's not blood.''
With spectators straining to control their titters and snorts – which severely annoyed Wills' three teenage children – a clearly embarrassed Katsnelson tried to pick his dignity up off the floor. "Sorry, I did not know it's red highlighter.''


Click on the link for the full story. I realize it’s probably in very poor taste to laugh over something in a murder trial, but I mean… come on! Artificial indeed.

Meanwhile, Chelbel has provided a link to a humourous little video, very entertaining. If you need a smile, go here forFight for Kisses.

6 comments:

Eileen said...

I love this story. Last time I testified in court for my day job I tripped over something that had fallen on the floor of the witness box and as I fell I hurled the bible I was about to swear on into the forehead of the baliff. Behold my impressive nature...

Sandra Ruttan said...

Oh gawd, Eileen - were we separated at birth? That sounds exactly like something I'd do!

John D. said...

I hate to admit it, but that was kinda funny. I saw an expert witness self-destruct on the stand once. It left me wondering whether you can sue such a witness for malpractice. Considering how much some of these guys charge, it's not that bad an idea. Oh well, buyer beware, I guess.

Sandra Ruttan said...

Well, at least I'm not the only one who thinks it's funny John! Buyer beware indeed! Good question about malpractice...

norby said...

I still say the question is do you demand the refund from the expert or the dumbass lawyer who found the guy? I mean who's more stupid-the idiot on the stand or the one paying him?

Sandra Ruttan said...

It's a valid question Norby. And you've got a point...