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1 Investigating and Prosecuting Strangulation Cases Bridget Healy Ryan Violence Against Women Policy Advisor Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Investigating and Prosecuting Strangulation Cases Bridget Healy Ryan Violence Against Women Policy Advisor Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office."— Presentation transcript:

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2 1 Investigating and Prosecuting Strangulation Cases Bridget Healy Ryan Violence Against Women Policy Advisor Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office

3 2 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The great and fabulous Mark WynnThe great and fabulous Mark Wynn Gael Straeck (San Diego, Family Justice Center)Gael Straeck (San Diego, Family Justice Center) Dr. George McClain (San Diego)Dr. George McClain (San Diego) Dr. Dean Hawley (Indianapolis)Dr. Dean Hawley (Indianapolis) Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Glynco, GA.)Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (Glynco, GA.) National Sheriff’s Association (Alexandria, VA.)National Sheriff’s Association (Alexandria, VA.)

4 3 The Lethality of Strangulation “The use of an object in strangulation increases the likelihood of lethality. Similarly, if the victim blacks out, she/he is in great danger of not regaining consciousness or sustaining brain damage from lack of oxygen.” — George McClain, MD, San Diego Emergency Department

5 4 Strangulation Study: San Diego, CA Studied 200 strangulation cases over a five year period.Studied 200 strangulation cases over a five year period. 62% of victims had no visible injury.62% of victims had no visible injury. 22% of victims had minor visible injuries.22% of victims had minor visible injuries. 16% had significant visible marks.16% had significant visible marks. 199 of the strangulation suspects were male and the average age was in the mid-twenties.199 of the strangulation suspects were male and the average age was in the mid-twenties.

6 5 Strangulation vs. Choking Many victims will report they have been “choked” when in technical terms they were the victims of strangulation.Many victims will report they have been “choked” when in technical terms they were the victims of strangulation. Choking = an internal obstruction of the airway.Choking = an internal obstruction of the airway. Strangulation = a form of asphyxia characterized by closure of the blood vessels and air passages of the neck as a result of external pressures on the neck.Strangulation = a form of asphyxia characterized by closure of the blood vessels and air passages of the neck as a result of external pressures on the neck.

7 6 Types of Strangulation HangingHanging LigatureLigature ManualManual

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9 8 Obstruction of Carotid Artery Most common cause of strangulationMost common cause of strangulation Results in unconsciousnessResults in unconsciousness 8 pounds of pressure cuts off oxygen flow to brain (less pressure than used to pull trigger of handgun)8 pounds of pressure cuts off oxygen flow to brain (less pressure than used to pull trigger of handgun) Oxygen flow cut off for only 8 seconds can cause critical injuryOxygen flow cut off for only 8 seconds can cause critical injury

10 9 Vessel Occlusion Carotid arteryCarotid artery occlusion – 11 pounds of pressure for 10 seconds Jugular vein occlusion – 4.4 pounds of pressure for 10 seconds UNCONSCIOUSNESS

11 10 Obstruction of Trachea 33 pounds of pressure completely obstructs33 pounds of pressure completely obstructs Can cause tracheal fracture, deathCan cause tracheal fracture, death Brain death results if strangulation persists for 4-5 minutesBrain death results if strangulation persists for 4-5 minutes

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14 13 No Visible Injuries Officers should always call EMS due to potential internal injuries, that can be fatal, and might not be apparent.Officers should always call EMS due to potential internal injuries, that can be fatal, and might not be apparent. Because of underlying brain damage by lack of oxygen during strangling, victims have died up to several weeks later.Because of underlying brain damage by lack of oxygen during strangling, victims have died up to several weeks later.

15 14 Signs and Symptoms Sore throatSore throat Hoarse, raspy voiceHoarse, raspy voice Loss of voiceLoss of voice Difficulty swallowingDifficulty swallowing Fainting, unconsciousnessFainting, unconsciousness Nausea, vomitingNausea, vomiting Loss of bodily functionLoss of bodily function MiscarriageMiscarriage Lung damageLung damage Scrapes, scratches, claw marks, chin abrasions Thumbprint bruises Bruises behind ears Red, linear marks (often 3) Petechieae (red dots on eye) Rope, cord burns Behavioral changes

16 15 Actual Strangulation Clip 8 lbs. of pressure for 8 seconds.8 lbs. of pressure for 8 seconds. Victim told police “nothing happened.”Victim told police “nothing happened.” Offender ultimately convicted of Assault 2 nd Degree.Offender ultimately convicted of Assault 2 nd Degree.

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22 21 Dangers of Minimization ProfessionalsProfessionals VictimsVictims

23 22 Proving Strangulation Cases without an Autopsy “Never Let A Victim Die in Vain” Dean Hawley, MD, Forensic Pathologist George McClane, MD, Emergency Physician Gael Strack, JD, Director, SD Family Justice Center

24 23 The Law

25 24 Strangulation Demands a Felony Arrest & Law Supports It. Assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. (PC245)Assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury. (PC245) People v. Covino (1980) 100 Cal.App.3d 600 (force of defendant’s assault by choking was likely to produce a serious injury although victim only had redness to neck and pain to throat).People v. Covino (1980) 100 Cal.App.3d 600 (force of defendant’s assault by choking was likely to produce a serious injury although victim only had redness to neck and pain to throat). Attempted spousal abuse (PC273.5) does not require injury.Attempted spousal abuse (PC273.5) does not require injury. People v. Kinsey (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 1621People v. Kinsey (1995) 40 Cal.App.4th 1621

26 25 Missouri, Chapter 565, Offenses Against the Person, Section August 28, 2003 Domestic Assault, second degreeDomestic Assault, second degree (1) Attempts to cause or knowingly causes physical injury to such family or household member by any means, including but not limited to, by use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or by choking or strangulation; or(1) Attempts to cause or knowingly causes physical injury to such family or household member by any means, including but not limited to, by use of a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument or by choking or strangulation; or Domestic Assault in the second degree is a class C felony.Domestic Assault in the second degree is a class C felony.

27 26 Minnesota, HF 963, Effective August 1, 2005 Domestic Assault by Strangulation.Domestic Assault by Strangulation. Subd. 1. Definitions. Defines the terms "family or household members" and "strangulation."Subd. 1. Definitions. Defines the terms "family or household members" and "strangulation." "Family or household member" includes spouses, former spouses, parents, children, blood relatives, persons with a child in common, persons residing together, persons who formerly resided together, and persons who are or have been involved in a significant romantic relationship."Family or household member" includes spouses, former spouses, parents, children, blood relatives, persons with a child in common, persons residing together, persons who formerly resided together, and persons who are or have been involved in a significant romantic relationship. "Strangulation" means "intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.""Strangulation" means "intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person." Subd. 2. Crime. Provides that domestic assault by strangulation is punishable by five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine. ("Domestic assault" is an intentional act to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death or an intentional act to inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon a family or household member.)Subd. 2. Crime. Provides that domestic assault by strangulation is punishable by five years imprisonment and/or a $10,000 fine. ("Domestic assault" is an intentional act to cause fear of immediate bodily harm or death or an intentional act to inflict or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon a family or household member.)

28 27 Idaho Code Section ATTEMPTED STRANGULATION. (1) Any person who willfully and unlawfully chokes or attempts to strangle a household member, or a person with whom he or she has or had a dating relationship, is guilty of a felony punishable by incarceration for up to fifteen (15) years in the state prison.ATTEMPTED STRANGULATION. (1) Any person who willfully and unlawfully chokes or attempts to strangle a household member, or a person with whom he or she has or had a dating relationship, is guilty of a felony punishable by incarceration for up to fifteen (15) years in the state prison. (2) No injuries are required to prove attempted strangulation.(2) No injuries are required to prove attempted strangulation. (3) The prosecution is not required to show that the defendant intended to kill or injure the victim. The only intent required is the intent to choke or attempt to strangle.(3) The prosecution is not required to show that the defendant intended to kill or injure the victim. The only intent required is the intent to choke or attempt to strangle. (4) "Household member" assumes the same definition as set forth in section (1)(a), Idaho Code. 20(4) "Household member" assumes the same definition as set forth in section (1)(a), Idaho Code. 20 (5) "Dating relationship" assumes the same definition as set forth in 21 section (2), Idaho Code.(5) "Dating relationship" assumes the same definition as set forth in 21 section (2), Idaho Code.

29 28 New Laws MissouriMissouri OklahomaOklahoma WashingtonWashington IdahoIdaho MinnesotaMinnesota North CarolinaNorth Carolina AlaskaAlaska HawaiiHawaii FloridaFlorida ConnecticutConnecticut LouisianaLouisiana OregonOregon Pending California

30 29 Premeditation Commonwealth v. Serino, Supreme Judicial Court, Docket No. SJC-07310, March 28, 2002 Evidence that the defendant manually strangled the victim to death was sufficient for jury to find deliberately premeditated murder. Evidence that the defendant manually strangled the victim to death was sufficient for jury to find deliberately premeditated murder. The defendant murdered his girlfriend by strangling her. In describing the incident to the police, the defendant admitted that he put both hands around the victim's throat and choked her for "about a minute". At trial, the medical examiner testified that death by strangulation would result only after choking for five to eight minutes. The testimony regarding the length of time it takes to cause death by strangulation allowed the jury to infer that death was not instantaneous but rather the result of sustained pressure applied to the victim's throat for several minutes, thereby allowing the defendant time to reflect on his decision to kill.

31 30 Likely Defenses in a Strangulation Case

32 31 Potential Defenses Self-inflicted injuriesSelf-inflicted injuries she is trying to set me up. Ask why?she is trying to set me up. Ask why? AutoeroticaAutoerotica Evidence of a ligature mark or a hangingEvidence of a ligature mark or a hanging Look for evidence at the sceneLook for evidence at the scene Consent – Applied or monitored by sexual partnerConsent – Applied or monitored by sexual partner she likes sex that wayshe likes sex that way BondageBondage “choke holding” during anal intercourse“choke holding” during anal intercourse

33 32 Trial

34 33 Trial Preparation Notice to Defense AttorneyNotice to Defense Attorney Copy of Expert’s CVCopy of Expert’s CV Meeting with expertMeeting with expert The Facts of CaseThe Facts of Case Questions to AskQuestions to Ask ChartsCharts Pre-trial motion with JudgePre-trial motion with Judge Information is RelevantInformation is Relevant Expert is QualifiedExpert is Qualified

35 34 PURPOSE OF THE DIRECT EXAMINATION Persuasively tell the storyPersuasively tell the story Establish the elementsEstablish the elements Leave the jury with a clear understandingLeave the jury with a clear understanding of how the crime occurred and why the defendant is guilty of how the crime occurred and why the defendant is guilty

36 35 THE PRE-TRIAL INTERVIEW: Part I Prepping for the interviewPrepping for the interview Read and review all reports and evidenceRead and review all reports and evidence Prepare a timelinePrepare a timeline Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each witnessIdentify the strengths and weaknesses of each witness

37 36 THE PRE-TRIAL INTERVIEW: Part II Prepping the witnessPrepping the witness Put your witness at ease (demonstration)Put your witness at ease (demonstration) Give witness the big pictureGive witness the big picture Remind the witness that the jury is a blank slate – the witness needs to fill in all blanksRemind the witness that the jury is a blank slate – the witness needs to fill in all blanks Stress the importance of telling the truth – even when they would rather not!Stress the importance of telling the truth – even when they would rather not! Make sure to show the witness all exhibitsMake sure to show the witness all exhibits Don’t forget the basicsDon’t forget the basics

38 37 ANTICIPATE THE CROSS Address the weaknessesAddress the weaknesses Explain the inconsistenciesExplain the inconsistencies It’s okay to say “I don’t know” to stupid questionsIt’s okay to say “I don’t know” to stupid questions Treat the defense attorney with respect (even when they don’t deserve it)Treat the defense attorney with respect (even when they don’t deserve it)

39 38 ORGANIZING THE DIRECT Introduce the witnessIntroduce the witness Humanize the witnessHumanize the witness Front the baggageFront the baggage Set the sceneSet the scene

40 39 ORGANIZING THE DIRECT, cont’d Lights, Camera, ActionLights, Camera, Action Lead the witness without asking a leading questionLead the witness without asking a leading question Identify the defendant as early as possibleIdentify the defendant as early as possible Make a ten second crime ten minutesMake a ten second crime ten minutes Keep the questions shortKeep the questions short Never forget your witness is the starNever forget your witness is the star End strongEnd strong

41 40 TRIPLE DIRECT Take the witness through the story from start to finishTake the witness through the story from start to finish Tell the story again using exhibitsTell the story again using exhibits Diagram of sceneDiagram of scene WeaponWeapon PhotographPhotograph ClothingClothing

42 41 TRIPLE DIRECT, CONT’D Have victim tell story for the third time through her sensory perceptionHave victim tell story for the third time through her sensory perception OBJECTION!!!! Asked and answered???OBJECTION!!!! Asked and answered???

43 42 ORDER OF WITNESSES Think outside the boxThink outside the box Start strongStart strong Bury the weaker witnessesBury the weaker witnesses End strongEnd strong

44 43 DON’T DO THE DON’TS DON’T use weak wordsDON’T use weak words DON’T redirect (unless you absolutely, positively have to)DON’T redirect (unless you absolutely, positively have to) DON’T end on a sustained objectionDON’T end on a sustained objection NEVER ask a question that you don‘t intend to argueNEVER ask a question that you don‘t intend to argue

45 44 DIRECT OF VICTIM Remember these cases are usually he said, she saidRemember these cases are usually he said, she said Take direct slowly – corroboration is in the detailsTake direct slowly – corroboration is in the details Deal with “challenging” facts up frontDeal with “challenging” facts up front Should ask many of the same questions that responding or follow up officers askedShould ask many of the same questions that responding or follow up officers asked

46 45 Developing your Local Expert Emergency room physician - SpecialistEmergency room physician - Specialist Medical ExaminerMedical Examiner Certified Forensic PathologistCertified Forensic Pathologist Forensic/SANE nurseForensic/SANE nurse ParamedicParamedic DV DetectivesDV Detectives Anyone else?Anyone else?

47 46 Direct Examination of Expert

48 47 Foundation of Expert Current position and dutiesCurrent position and duties Prior work experiencePrior work experience EducationEducation TrainingTraining Licenses & certificatesLicenses & certificates Teaching experienceTeaching experience Published writingsPublished writings Affiliation to professional OrganizationsAffiliation to professional Organizations

49 48 Attempted Strangulation Questions Received training specific to strangulation?Received training specific to strangulation? Examined patients who have reported being strangled?Examined patients who have reported being strangled? Applied your training to the examination of those patients?Applied your training to the examination of those patients? How many patients have you examined who reported being strangled?How many patients have you examined who reported being strangled? Previously testified as an expert?Previously testified as an expert? How many times?How many times?

50 49 Use suggested questions & customize to your case

51 50 Use Charts

52 51 Vessels: arteries & veins CAROTID ARTERY JUGULAR VEIN THYROID CARTILAGE (with fracture shown) TRACHEAL RINGS HYOID BONE HYOID BONE

53 52 Quantity of Applied Force Surface Area Of Applied Force Duration of Applied Force Exact Anatomic Location of Applied Force

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55 54 Defense Questions Make a long list of potential defense questions

56 55 Friendly Fire Questions – Preemptive Strike & Set up for the Spike? Come on doc, aren’t we just talking about pink eye?Come on doc, aren’t we just talking about pink eye? Isn’t that bruise to her neck, just a hickey?Isn’t that bruise to her neck, just a hickey? Isn’t true, she could have a sore voice from yelling at the defendant?Isn’t true, she could have a sore voice from yelling at the defendant? Isn’t it true a person can hold their breath for several minutes and die?Isn’t it true a person can hold their breath for several minutes and die? Do you know if the victim was intubated?Do you know if the victim was intubated? But if she were intubated, could the treatment obliterate your findings?But if she were intubated, could the treatment obliterate your findings?

57 56 Ask defense questions first: How much are you getting paid?How much are you getting paid? Do you consider yourself a professional witness?Do you consider yourself a professional witness? Testified only for the prosecution?Testified only for the prosecution? You haven’t qualified in a felony case, have you?You haven’t qualified in a felony case, have you? You haven’t qualified in a death penalty case, have you?You haven’t qualified in a death penalty case, have you?

58 57 CROSS OF DEFENDANT Concessions first (def will usually tell the truth all the way up to the point where he gets in trouble)Concessions first (def will usually tell the truth all the way up to the point where he gets in trouble) Pose questions in terms of HIS behavior not HERS!Pose questions in terms of HIS behavior not HERS! Work your theme in – he’ll give you something!Work your theme in – he’ll give you something! You didn’t stop when she lost consciousness…You didn’t stop when she lost consciousness…

59 58 OPENING AND CLOSING Opening: Tell a story – your first chance to begin to recreate the victims reality of that dayOpening: Tell a story – your first chance to begin to recreate the victims reality of that day Closing: Homerun time. Take your whole offender focused prosecution and leave the jury no choice but to despise him!Closing: Homerun time. Take your whole offender focused prosecution and leave the jury no choice but to despise him!

60 59 Life after Crawford v. Washington 124 S. Ct (March 8, 2004

61 60 Forfeiture by wrongdoing Defendant forfeits the right to object that the victim is unavailable and he did not have the opportunity to cross examine her if:Defendant forfeits the right to object that the victim is unavailable and he did not have the opportunity to cross examine her if: Victim is unavailable because of his actions, threats, intimidation, harassment.Victim is unavailable because of his actions, threats, intimidation, harassment. Happens in every case but how to prove it?Happens in every case but how to prove it?

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