Goldman's Cause of Death

HE BLED TO DEATH: The quick answer to the question of Goldman's cause of death (and Nicole's) is that they bled to death. But, it is possible -- and instructive -- to know a little specifically which wounds to Goldman were fatal.

    Goldman suffered two kinds of wounds, "slicing" (with the sharp knife edge) and "stabbing" (with the knife point). Of the former, there were some three dozen, and these were "defensive wounds" to Goldman's hands and arms, and the rest were concentrated on the left side of the victim's head and neck. This area was considerably damaged ("left ear cut nearly off") and he bled greatly from these (the left jugular vein was transected). All of the forensic experts agreed that if Goldman did not die from the blood loss on the left side of his neck and head, he would have soon.g'man1.jpg (40967 bytes)

    But, there were also four deep stab wounds: one to the thigh, one to the abdomen, and two to the right side of his chest. The fact that some blood was found in the abdominal and pleural cavities shows that those wounds occurred before Goldman had died, and his heart stopped pumping blood, but the fact that only 100 cc of blood was found by Dr. Golden in the abdominal cavity and 150 cc in the pleural cavity shows that he did not live long after these wounds were suffered. (We are indebted to Prien to point this out.) Both chest wounds cut branches of the pulmonary artery, and the abdominal wound cut the abdominal aorta. The volume flow rate from these wounds would have been great, and the fact that there was relatively little blood in these cavities indicates the stab wounds were administered very shortly (seconds) before Goldman died.

    So, it appears that Goldman suffered the stab wounds just before he died, but he was already greatly weakened by blood loss from the injured jugular vein by that time.

    GOLDMAN'S POSTURE: Prien also points out that the streaks of blood on Goldman's face, as his body was discovered, tell us something about his posture when he bled from his neck. (See [G'MAN1.JPG].) Three major paths of blood are shown in the photograph (A, B, and C) and the tips of the arrowheads indicating these, point to roughly the apex of the paths in this posture. It is uphill from the source of the blood (neck wounds) to the arrowheads (on the cheek), and downhill beyond (to the front of the face). Clearly, Goldman was not in this posture when that blood ran across his face. (Also notice that in the perpendicular direction it is downhill toward the scalp, and in this posture, those flows would have run into Goldman's hairline, which they did not do.)

    Furthermore, we can inquire as to what posture Goldman could have been in while the neck wound bled to have caused this indication, and we see that he was face down. In that posture the neck is above the cheek and the cheek is above the front of the face. These implications of blood streaks on Goldman's face are consistent with my earlier analysis of the blood on Goldman's clothes which showed that while he bled from the neck, he was sitting straight-legged, folded nearly double, with his left neck over his left knee. And from the uniform haze of blood (not patches, globs, and splotches) on the back of Goldman's pants -- containing no dirt or plant debris -- we know that he writhed on a hard, (relatively) clean, but bloody surface, such as the front walk. And, from the absence of blood stains on the left side of the front of Goldman's shirt we see that he was not erect for any substantial time after his neck began to bleed.

    But, the deep stab wounds could not have been administered while Goldman was bent over (sites of penetration were inaccessible), and so we see that there must have been two phases, the butchery attack against his neck and the stabbing attack, when he was no longer folded over, but may have been "opened up" to lie flat on his back. From the small amount of blood in the internal cavities (and the large amount of blood on his left pants leg), the butchery phase came first.

: In his criminal trial testimony, Dr. Lakshmanan (L.A. County Coroner) described five "testing wounds" to Goldman's right cheek. Although Lakshmanan did not elaborate, it was understood that these were wounds administered by the killer to determine whether Goldman was actually dead, and it was safe for him to leave the scene. Presumably, by examining a fresh wound to see if it bled, such a condition could be determined: a fresh nick that did not bleed indicated that the victim was dead. It has been argued here that Laksmanan made an error in the characterization of these wounds, or was trying to lead the observer astray. But, he was a prosecution witness, and presumably he was there to convict Simpson -- to the extent that the truth would contribute to that. But, facts are facts, and it was to Lakshmanan's credit to mention this one (and the "threatening" wounds) even though they seemed counter-productive to the prosecutor's case.

    From the foregoing we see that the stab wounds came at the end for Goldman, and presumably when Goldman was dead further attacks stopped. Since the purpose of these tests to the cheek was to determine whether to stop stabbing, we presume that the last test showed Goldman was dead, and we now understand why there were five tests to go with four stab wounds. There was a test at the outset of the stabbing phase, and the total sequence was...

    1. Test (alive). Stab.
    2. Test (alive). Stab.
    3. Test (alive). Stab.
    4. Test (alive). Stab.
    5. Test (dead). Stop.

    The number of testing wounds (5) and the number of stabs (4) fit.

    Finally, we see that when this stabbing process was done, Goldman was not in his final position in the alcove, whereupon the assailant could just walk away. The testing wounds were on Goldman's right cheek, and that was toward the ground, inaccessible to the killer. Goldman was in some other posture while stabbing/testing took place. (On his back, on the front walk, works.)

: Of the deep stab wounds to Goldman, three are in places where it could be expected that a deep strike might bring death quickly because of internal bleeding. But, the strike to the left thigh (transverse and high, near the crotch) is not of that kind; it probably would not be fatal, even if left untreated for hours. Since it appears from the foregoing that in the stabbing phase, the killer was trying to finish Goldman off quickly, we are led to believe that the victim might have flailed his leg in an effort to thwart a coming knife, and took the hit in the leg, unintended by the killer.

    We also see that on the sole of Goldman's left boot there is a blood drop of mixed origin: Ron's blood and Nicole's. This Det. Lange characterizes as "cast off" from a weapon that had cut them both. From the position where this spot was, Lange says (March 7th) that Goldman "was down" when it occurred. (It can also be inferred that Goldman never got up on his feet after this drop on his sole landed, or he would have scuffed it away.) There is also a cut to the tip of one of Goldman's boots, as from a knife. All of these indications are consistent with Goldman on his back, flailing his legs to spoil the aim of a knife thrust toward his body, and taking a strike in his leg. (In my visualization, Goldman's upper body was being restrained by one killer while a second one stabbed him, and the only latitude he had to defend himself was with his legs.) There are no clear indications that Goldman was able to fight back after that.

Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, CA (1/25/01) NG_709.TXT

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