"THREATENING WOUNDS" TO GOLDMAN


JOHN:

    Our discussion concerns Dr Lakshmanan's (the coroner) description of Goldman as having received "threatening" wounds across his neck, and there has been some question about what Dr. L said. I have reviewed the transcript, and the relevant portion from several days runs to about four pages. Rather than simply dump that out before you, I have summarized it below (fairly I think) so that we may discuss the facts.

   DR. LAKSHMANAN'S TESTIMONY: During the criminal trial, Dr. L was interviewed by prosecutor Brian Kelberg and defense attorney Robert Shapiro during the period from June 2 to June 15. Only the discussion with Kelberg touched on "threatening wounds," and that was mostly on June 8th. On that day an autopsy photograph of Goldman's neck was being viewed, and Kelberg pointed out two long and parallel scratches horizontal (if Goldman were standing) across the upper part of the front of the victim's neck. Of these, Dr. L. said, "at some point in the altercation [Goldman] was immobilized and there were control cuts applied to his neck because they are parallel and they seem to run in a left to right - seem to run from one side of the neck to the other." He says "both of them are running like a railroad track adjacent to each other."

    He describes in more detail, "...the lower wound is a longer wound, if you take all the measurements, is about six inches long. You have two wounds which are linear, superficial, parallel to each other, which would indicate that Mr. Goldman was held and immobilized, and these cuts were made and there's no struggle at that point because of the appearance of the wound." Then there is a demonstration with Dr. L playing perpetrator and Kelberg as victim. Both are standing, with perpetrator behind, his left arm over victim's chest and reaching with his right hand, as though holding a knife, in front of victim's neck.

    Laksmanan goes into even finer detail, "The other factor which supports this theory is these two small nicks above the abrasion below the second injury you see here (Indicating) which we can discuss and that would also indicate that the knife was in the front... The knife was in the front of the neck and the tip of the knife also cause a smaller cut you see above the superficial cut which I just described..." (I frankly do not follow this detail, but one would probably have to see the exhibit to understand how the smaller cut was related to the long incised wound.)

    Of the implications, Dr. L. says, "He [Goldman] was held tight so he couldn't move so that these control cuts could be made. ...they occurred earlier during the altercation because you have other wounds which are more serious wounds and they were -- caused death in a rapid manner. ... So this would have occurred earlier in the struggle." If Goldman were free to move, "There would be other cuts and it won't be so parallel and linear as we see it in [the] photographs." Dr. L. also says, "There are no additional cuts there. They -- and looks like these are threatening cuts. ... Like this is something that you ... threaten somebody when you do this kind of injury. You can see these types of injuries when someone is being immobilized an you're threatening them that you're going to do bodily harm to them when you do this kind of injury."

    You may be heartened that after thinking about the implications of this testimony for a few days, and with Dr. Lakshmanan still on the stand, Kelberg interjects the possibility that what had previously been described as "threatening" wounds could also be considered "taunting." Dr. L. does not object to this characterization.

    Surprisingly, the defense did not go into this subject when they cross examined Lakshmanan.

    CONCLUSION: I think there is no question that Dr. Lakshmanan considered that these were threatening wounds, suffered very early in the encounter, while Goldman was held immobilized, and before he began to struggle and try to fight back. This is not a topic that slipped out in a casual aside, but was discussed in considerable detail. I also think that the coroner had a logical basis for forming his conclusions about this, and stated it.

    By itself, "threatening" wounds do not prove that Simpson was not the perpetrator. Simpson himself could have threatened Goldman. (However, threatening wounds does give a somewhat different flavor to the usual scenario, if Simpson is guilty.) I think it is a mistake to simply make "threatening wounds" go away because one thinks the coroner does not know what he's talking about or that he has no reason for his opinion.


Dick Wagner • Van Nuys, Ca (5/29/99) NG_553

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