NL- Interesting points. Thanks for writing PC
A Defense of Dr Wayne Carver II regarding the Newtown mass shooting: by Paperchase
Jeremy Steele, partly using James F. Tracy as his source, has just figuratively dumped a whole bucket of conspiracy laced crap over Dr. Wayne Carver who is the Chief Medical Examiner of the State of Connecticut. While Dr. Carver does not give good press conferences (he told reporters this was only his second formal press conference in over thirty years with the office) and he bobbled a few questions, the use of his comments to support a massive conspiracy theory by Jeremy, reveals that Jeremy is heading around the bend. Jeremy and Tracy make repeated mistaken assumptions that demonstrates that this part of their case is built on non-existent foundations.
Tracy’s article, which Jeremy reprints approvingly, contains a video tape of Carver being asked questions. One can see Carver’s face on the OCME’s web site http://www.ct.gov/ocme/site/default.asp
and its a match, similarly it defies belief that Connecticut reporters, present at this conference, some of whom had previously talked to Carver would not be able to recognize an imposter. Finally though I am anonymous, I have previously interacted with Carver, and attended some presentations he has given to various professional audiences. It’s him, and I don’t know why Tracy even brings up the impostor possibility. If he’s trying to make a point by being sarcastic, it falls flat.
There is not a strict rule for how long a full autopsy takes to perform. However the more wounds to the body the longer it takes. An autopsy can take between an hour and four hours, and Carver had just completed seven, so he was likely exhausted when he went before the cameras. Secondly, each autopsy is followed by a multi-page report dictated by the medical examiner who conducted the autopsy. The report is usually generated as a rough draft and then examined and corrected by the medical examiner to make sure no errors creep into the final report. At the time Carver was speaking (it was Saturday) the reports for the up to 26 autopsies which had been conducted, were still winding their way through this process preventing him from providing complete statistical information. He would have only had specific information on the seven autopsies he had personally conducted, and would have been too busy to watch the other autopsies being conducted by his fellow medical examiners from start to finish. Therefore commenting on the cumulative statistical product of their work would have been a good way to make errors in his own comments and he smartly resisted the temptation to do so.
Finally, most forensic pathologists are, in my limited experience, a bit weird. You don’t go into that particular medical residency if you are perfectly normal, which is why there are fewer then 500 board certified ME’s currently active in America. So if Carver comes across as a bit of a death nerd, its typical for the profession. You almost have to have a strange sense of humor to keep it together when you are working on a child who died from abuse and neglect or a person burned to death. It doesn’t indicate that he was under coercion, just that he was exhausted, all the reports weren’t yet typed up, he’s a bit weird like most of his medical tribe, and he is not used to doing press conferences.
Lets go to some of the more specific points that Jeremy made, or Tracy made, and Jeremy endorsed uncritically.
1) Jeremy: "There were supposedly only handguns found in the school, yet only automatic bullets were used. An automatic was found in the alleged killer’s car trunk (not at the scene of the crime) while the car is registered in another man’s name."
Tracy contradicts his mope follower by quoting Lt. Paul Vance of the Connecticut State Police, who corrected a reporter who said that what we later learned was a Bushmaster AR-15 type rifle was found in the trunk of the car the shooter drove to the scene. "That’s not correct" Vance said. And Jeremy, its not "automatic" bullets. "Automatic" is a generic method of mechanical operation used by a semi automatic pistol or semi auto or full auto rifle that uses a magazine. I think you were referring to the caliber of ammunition used which would most likely be .223 Remington which is fired out of a rifle, and not a semi auto pistol or a revolver.*
*Some Bushmaster rifles are chambered in calibers other then .223 such as 308 Winchester.
2) Wayne Carver said he would conduct a full examination of the shooter the next day, Sunday. Jeremy finds that this is a red flag.
At the conference, Carver said that he and his staff had autopsied the children first so that they could be sent back to their parents for burial as soon as possible. That’s why the shooter’s body was kept waiting, he didn’t have priority over the children. The "fool you guys" comment was in reference to how OCME trucks were unmarked, so they could go to crime scenes and recover bodies without being spotted by the media. Should Carver have said this? Probably not, but the OCME does have an interest in doing its business without attracting media attention, a virtue Jeremy would never appreciate.
3) Jeremy: "Parents were not allowed to see the bodies, no videos or photos exist showing any sort of carnage."
Jeremy, did you expect the Connecticut State Police were going to photograph the classrooms where the shooting happened, complete with pictures of many dead children, and immediately release them to the public? Similarly autopsy photos are not released to the public, the only time crime scene photos and autopsy photos are generally shown to the public is if a death or homicide goes to trial, or a public inquest in a coroner based system which does not exist in Connecticut. Since the shooter is dead, I don’t think that’s going to happen here. In your first statement you say that Parents were not allowed to see the bodies. When the current Connecticut Medical Examiner’s office was built, it was designed with a large walk in refrigerator for bodies, and a large open bay to conduct autopsies, they did not have a separate viewing room. So families who go to the medical examiners office are not allowed on the ground floor to see the body, instead they are brought photos while upstairs. You can argue this is a design flaw to the building, and some in Connecticut have. However while conducting multiple autopsies, you can’t efficiently conduct your functions while multiple family members are walking through the autopsy room surrounded by bodies with some of them crying and having emotional breakdowns. (Which I would have if I had children who died under such circumstances) That’s why the bodies were autopsied as quickly as possible and sent to funeral homes, where the parents could view their children.
4) Tracy writes: "Carver has an extremely self assured almost swaggering presence in Connecticut state administration" and then discusses an article showing that Carver threatened to resign if the governor’s office took away certain functions from his office.
This sounds like standard bureaucratic budget warring to me folks. The fact that Carver engaged in a budget fight with the governor’s office does not mean that he’s a swaggering presence on the witness stand, or at press conferences. Tracy says this to set up a false choice. That if Carver is not swaggering he’s being coerced by some unknown group or entity, as verses being exhausted.
5) Tracy is suspicious about Carver deferring a question about the caliber of the rifle used to the State Police, Carver may have been doing so because the Police had collected the rifle and presumably all of the casings found at the location.
6) Tracy complains that when asked about whether the wounds were "at close range" Carver said that he only had a sample of seven autopsies and didn’t know this specific information from the other autopsies. Tracy finds it a "startling admission" that Carver didn’t have complete information on the other shootings. As I’ve previously explained, without having all the autopsy reports back in final form, Carver could not, in good faith, provide such a number. Carver also did not have a precise number for the total number of bullets and fragments he found in these seven bodies. Given that one bullet can fragment into multiple pieces when it hits bone, Carver may have not wanted to provide a precise number which then would be slightly off. That’s how you get your testimony impeached when you testify at a murder trial which is his professional frame of reference when being questioned.
7) Tracy says that "the Bushmaster .223 Connecticut police finally claimed was used in the shooting is designed for long range field use and utilizes high velocity bullets averaging 3,000 feet per second, the energy of which even at considerable distance would penetrate several bodies before finally coming to rest in tissue."
Tracy starts by assuming that the bullets would penetrate multiple bodies when it is very possible the vast majority of the shooter’s bullets would have hit the floor, or walls, or furniture if they went through their young victims bodies, because Lanza, would have been mostly firing downward on his mostly underage six and seven year old victims, since he was taller then they were.
Tracy apparently knows nothing about firearms and ballistics. First he does not know the precise velocity of the .223 bullets in this shooting because this figure varies somewhat depending on the length of the barrel on the rifle which is not yet public information. But let’s assume he’s correct that it was approximately 3,000 feet per second. There are no reliable scientific studies using even ballistics gelatin which will discuss the likelyhood of a specific.223 round penetrating multiple children’s bodies during a shooting. Carver had drawn Tracy’s ire on this point because he had said that "bullets are designed in such a fashion that the energy . . . is deposited in the tissue so the bullet stays in [the tissue]" That is correct when the target is other military aged males. Carver did not have any studies to rely on for this particular situation so he provided a conventional explanation, rather then attempt to pioneer his own sub-field of children’s BULLISTICS on the spot.
Similarly while .223 caliber military rifles sometimes possess sights that can be adjusted out to 500 yards, the American Army typically trains its soldiers to hit targets 300 yards and closer with this weapon. For shots beyond 300 yards and most definitely beyond 500 yards, the army prefers to use rifles firing larger caliber bullets which are more stable in flight such as the M14 Rifle which fires the 7.62 mm round. (this caliber is available to civilians as the 308 Winchester and also called 7.62 Nato) The Bushmaster is "long range" when compared to a pistol, but not when compared to other rifles. For example the M14 can be sighted to ranges up to 1000 yards away, though use to a range of 800 yards is more realistic for most shooters.
8) Tracy objects to the delay in autopsying Lanza because "Carver left the most important specimen for last" asking why. This ignores Carver’s comments elsewhere in the press conference about returning the bodies of the children to their parents as soon as they possibly could do so. Then Tracy criticizes Carver for not knowing conclusively whether the gunman shot himself with a rifle or a pistol. Carver probably did not want to hazard an answer before conducting the autopsy. Carver may have thought a pistol may have been used because of the appearance of the head. (i.e. less damaged then if it had been hit by a rifle round) but not all wounds produced by the same caliber of bullets are identical and Carver may have simply not wanted to commit himself before removing the top of the gunman’s skull and examining his brain, and skull in more detail.
9) Carver was then asked "the nature of the shooting, is there any sense that there was a lot of care taken with precision or randomly."
Carver points out that he would not be allowed to answer this question as phrased by the court. Tracy then gets upset because Carver is careful with his answer at a press conference, and not testifying at trial, though Carver is answering questions for a national audience and is being conservative in his answers. Secondly, an opinion of whether the shooter was operating "with precision" or randomly" is a behavioral question about the shooter, and very difficult to answer based on the information that Carver had available to him. (He was processing bodies, and not the crime scene, even though he had visited the scene) Notice in the transcript when asked if the victims were sitting or running at the time they were shot, Carver wisely defers this question to the crime scene officers.
I’ve already mentioned repeatedly that Carver also had only autopsied 25% of the bodies in this case at the time of the press conference, giving him further reason not to draw a conclusion from only his sample. Without the completion of a reconstruction of the shooting scene, it would be difficult to make such a determination. For example shooter walks up to a teacher and fires three shots into her chest because she is preventing his entry into a classroom. This is not a random act, because he is shooting her to gain access to the class room, but if Carver autopsies her body, he will probably not, on that Saturday know precisely where she was standing when she was shot and unable to determine precision verses randomness. He also will probably not have access to all of the applicable witness statements which would help with such a determination.
Similarly lets suppose one of the students standing next to her runs to get help, and gets shot in the back in a widely scattered wound pattern. Is this shooting random because the shots did not hit center mass? Did the gunman fire because he knew what the child was doing, and therefore attempting to further his plan? Or was he shooting everything on sight? Carver can’t know this on Saturday. It was a lousy question, and Tracy goes after Carver, for refusing to speculate on national TV. Note to Tracy, such speculation is not generally "impartial opinion".
A better question would have been something like, based on what you witnessed performing your autopsies, and your visit to the crime scene, do you have an opinion as to the degree to which the offender had planned his crime? This question would have probably still drawn an objection at a hypothetical trial but it would have been an easier, more focused question for Carver answer.
10) A reporter asks Carver how many boys and how many girls were killed. Carver didn’t have these gender specific numbers off the top of his head and said he didn’t know. It was a mistake on his part but nothing that indicated a conspiracy or his coercion by forces unknown.
11) Tracy asks how the gunman fired so many shots in such little time since each victim was shot between 3 and 11 times during a 5 to 7 minute span. In the transcript Tracy provides, Carver says this about the seven victims he, Carver autopsied, not every victim. I don’t know if any police officer expanded Carver’s statement to the entire pool of victims, but even if this was true, Tracy commits a very basic statistical error. He finds the average between 3 and 11 to be 7 wounds per victim and uses it to derive a total of 182 wounds or a minimum of 182 shots fired which hit various victims. Tracy is assuming what is called a normal bell shaped distribution curve when estimating the number of wounds per victim, when at best the authorities only offered a range, for example in a sample of Carver’s seven victims we might have the following wound totals.
3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 7, 11
For those reading, that’s an average of 36 wounds, not 49 as Tracy’s average would suggest. It is very possible that instead of a normal bell shaped distribution that the distribution is skewed towards the lower numbers which would destroy Tracy’s insinuation that there was a second shooter because an untrained Lanza could not accurately fire 182 bullets at a rate of one bullet a second in the five to seven minutes allocated to him in the official time line of this event. I think its clear Lanza fired many shots, but Tracy’s numerical reconstruction is to put it bluntly, junk journalism.
12) Where is the Photo evidence? Tracy claims that the lack of visual evidence of Lanza’s crime is suspicious because there is no visual evidence of Lanza breaking into the building, nor "routine eyewitness, photo or video of the crime scene’s aftermath — broken glass, blasted security locks, and doors, bullet casings, and holes, bloodied walls and floors oo all of which are common in such investigations and reportage.
Such photographs of the interior of crime scenes are common when law enforcement loses control of the crime scene. The Connecticut State Police did not allow reporters to roam the hallways and classrooms of this elementary school taking photos and video. They were doing so to preserve and process evidence. Remember the Virginia Tech shooting? There was a similar lack of photos of the class rooms of death because the media was also not allowed in while there was blood on the floor. Perhaps the media did not get its photos of Lanza’s entry point because the police backed them up out of the parking lot. I can tell you as a Connecticut resident, most of the pictures we saw of the crime scene were taken from news helicopter or alternately pictures of the school sign. The police seized control of the school parking lot and apparently didn’t allow the media access. Given his interest in media, Tracy is free to complain about such control of the media, but it doesn’t mean that there is an official conspiracy to misconstrue what happened at this Sandy Hook school.
In conclusion Wayne Carver, committed the ultimate sin in modern American Society, he was bad on TV. (See Dennis Miller’s rant on this subject in regards to James Stockdale) Jeremy by contrast is wacky as a bedbug, and I have no idea about what Tracy’s motivation may be, Tracy should be sentenced to giving Jeremy a place to live at his family abode so he realizes the full cost of encouraging such wing nuttery.
Paperchase, a resident of Connecticut, was the only poster at XPT ever banned for making fun of Ryan "Flopsy Mope" Knox. He is not a past or present employee of OCME and does not write this reply with Dr. Carver’s prior knowledge or permission. For the record Dr. Carver would probably be appalled by this discussion of himself on a porn news site.
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