Post by Herbert Blenner on Feb 11, 2019 15:47:34 GMT -5
Impenetrable at Fifty
by Herbert Blenner | Posted September 21, 2013
Half a century after the assassination of President Kennedy the forensic details of his bullet wounds are disputable. This situation arose mainly from the Warren Commission testimony of then Lieutenant Commander James J. Humes who performed the autopsy and the evaluation his documentation by subsequent medical panels.
During his Warren Commission testimony, Humes related a forensically complete description of the back wound. He twice described the wound as four millimeters by seven millimeters. Humes described the wound as oval with its longer axis was parallel to the long axis of the vertical column. (1) (2)
Humes attributed the six-millimeter dimension of the scalp wound being less than the 6.5-millimeter diameter of the bullet to elastic recoil of the skin. (3) (4) So the four-millimeter dimension of the back wound implies that Humes reported measurements of the bullet hole in the back.
Based upon autopsy photographs, the Clark Panel placed the back wound within one centimeter of the position reported by Humes. They measured the elliptical abrasion surrounding the back wound as seven millimeters by ten millimeters without specifying the direction of the longer ten-millimeter axis. (5) These newly disclosed details of the back wound were consistent with the earlier disclosures by Humes.
The testimony of Doctor Baden before the HSCA upset the harmony between the Warren Commission testimony of Humes and the Clark Panel report. In particular, Baden used an imaginary clock with twelve o'clock nearest the head to place the wider portion of the abrasion near three o'clock. (6) This transverse orientation of the abrasion contradicted the longitudinal orientation of the bullet hole reported by Humes. (1) (2)
H. A. Ryberg under the direction of Humes and Ida Dox guided by Baden illustrated the conflicting alignments of the back wound.
Figure 1 - Drawings Showing a Longitudinal Wound on the Left and a Transvere Wound on the Right
The leak of the Fox photographs confirmed the reality of the conflict illustrated by the artists. Fox-5 shows a longitudinal wound with relative dimensions of four to seven approximately four centimeters inferior to a transverse wound with relative dimensions of seven to ten.
Figure 2 - Photograph Showing a Longitudinal Defect About Four Centimeters Inferior to a Transverse Defect
Fox-5 disputes the description of the back wound as oval by Humes. Instead the wound has a bulb shape and strongly resembles a buttressed exit wound made by a bullet with a moderate twenty-degree angle of yaw. The failure of Humes to report an abrasion or an abrasion collar surrounding the longitudinal back hole is indirect evidence of an exit wound. More important, the Forensic Pathology Panel described features of the remnant throat wound which belong to an entry wound. In particular the panel noted reddish-brown and slightly denuded margins. (7) These features were explicitly cited by the panel as evidence for the scalp (8) and the transverse back (9) wounds being wounds of entry.
Upon reviewing autopsy photographs during his 1996-testimony before the Assassination Records Review Board, Humes denounced a longitudinal object as a drop and blood and thoughtfully endorsed the transverse object as the wound of entry. (10) Apparently the thoughts that motivated Humes to describe the presumed wound of entry upon the back in his autopsy report of 1963 were still troubling his conscience. (11)
Initially Doctor Humes reported that the scalp wound was located slightly superior to the external occipital protuberance, commonly known as the EOP. (12) The Clark Panel placed this wound high above the hairline at four inches, ten centimeters, superior to the EOP. (13) (14)
In their testimonies of 1977 before the Forensic Pathology Panel, Humes and his assistant, Doctor J. Thorton Boswell, relocated the scalp wound inferior to the EOP and near the hairline. (15) This maneuver by Humes and Boswell enabled the Forensic Pathology Panel to attach their cowlick entry into the skull to the scalp wound. The following year, Humes retracted his relocation of the scalp wound and affirmed its earlier placement. (16) In 1996, during his ARRB deposition, Boswell followed the lead of Humes and affirmed the location of the scalp wound as slightly above the EOP. (17) (18) In fact Boswell denied having changed his mind as to the location of the scalp wound. (19)
During his Warren Commission testimony, Humes did not describe the shape of the scalp wound. Instead he medically classified the wound as a laceration. (4) However, Humes attributed the longer dimension of the six millimeters by fifteen millimeters wound to a tangential entry by the bullet. (20)
In January 1967 following the review of autopsy materials, Humes reported that a tunnel connected the scalp wound with the hole in the skull. He noted that the slanting direction of the wound track obscured the actual penetration of the skull. (21)
The Clark Panel reported an elliptical wound of the scalp whose fifteen-millimeter longer axis corresponded with the long axis of the skull. (13) Despite location, the elliptical shape and the dimensions of six millimeters by fifteen millimeters placed the bullet entering the head with a 66-degree incidence angle measured from a perpendicular to the point of entry. Coupling this highly tangential incidence angle with the approximate alignment of the longer axis of the wound with the long axis of the skull placed the entering bullet on course for exit to the right and rear of the apex of the head. These forensic considerations require that Kennedy had an incredible face down posture when shot in the head.
Fortunately the Clark Panel noted one detail to circumvent the problems raised by this incredible face-down posture. They noted that the margin of the scalp wound had an ill-defined zone of abrasion. (13) Without doubt the firm substance of the skull beneath a thin layer of soft tissue wound produce an especially prominent abrasion surrounding a bullet wound of the head. This physical consideration is sufficient to discredit the autopsy photographs that show a scalp wound surrounded by ill-defined abrasion.
Fifty years has elapsed since the assassination of President Kennedy and nobody can explain with certainty the physiological basis for his death. This shortcoming has become a national disgrace.