House Select Committee on Assassinations
Investigation of the Assassination of
Martin Luther King, Jr.
Volume 1, pp. 41-73
of Martin Luther King, Jr.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 15, 1978
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
SELECT COMMITTEE ON ASSASSINATIONS
The committee met at 9 a.m., pursuant to notice, in room 2172, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Louis Stokes (chairman of the committee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Stokes, Preyer, Fauntroy, Burke, Dodd, Ford, Fithian, Edgar, Devine, McKinney, Thone, and Sawyer.
Also present: Mr. Robert Blakey, chief counsel and staff director; Edward-Evans, chief investigator; Michael C. Eberhardt, assistant deputy chief counsel; Gene R. Johnson, deputy chief counsel; William Webb, staff counsel; and Kenneth McHargh, staff counsel.
Chairman STOKES. A quorum being present, the committee will come to order? As the first order of business the Chair recognizes Professor Blakey.
Mr. BLAKEY. Mr. Chairman, the subject matter of this morning's hearing is the results of the autopsy panel.
Shortly after Dr. King was pronounced dead on the evening of April 4, 1968, his body was taken from St. Joseph's Hospital to John Gaston Hospital, where an autopsy was performed by Dr. Jerry T. Francisco, the medical examiner of Shelby County, Tenn.
A medical-legal autopsy is a procedure designed to identify the body, determine the cause and manner of death, identify any object that might have been the cause of death, and provide scientific information that may be of use in subsequent legal proceedings.
Following the submission of Dr. Francisco's report, a public document under Tennessee law, several issues were raised by the report itself and other sources concerning Dr. King's death. From eyewitness accounts, there was disagreement over the point of origin of the fatal shot, and an analysis of Dr. Francisco's report seemed to confirm the ambiguities. The angle of trajectory and bullet tract through the body, for example, were not clearly delineated. Questions arose also over the pathological findings.
The committee has sought to resolve the autopsy issues by assembling a panel of medical experts to review the procedure Dr. Francisco employed and the conclusions he reached, as well as medical treatment given Dr. King. Four main questions were posed to the panel:
One. What medical treatment was administered to Dr. King by the ambulance crew and hospital staff? Was it responsible and complete? Were reports of medical treatment and accompanying exhibits accurate and complete?
Two. What autopsy procedures were applied? Was the autopsy conducted responsibly and in accordance with prescribed practices of forensic pathology? Were autopsy reports and exhibits accurate and complete?
Three. Does the trajectory of the bullet as it can be determined from the wound itself indicate the point of origin of the shot? Does the path of the bullet through the body indicate the point of origin? What can be said, if anything, about the possibility that the origin was a second floor bathroom window in the roominghouse to the west-northwest of where Dr. King was standing? Or can it be said to have come from somewhere else?
Four. Is the damage to Dr. King's body and clothing consistent with that which would normally be expected from a projectile of the type recovered from the body?
The panel was advised, of course, that it was at liberty to seek answers to additional questions that it might pose for itself if it so desired.
Major professional organizations in the field of pathology were solicited for recommendations as to how the panel should function and who should be on it. The committee chose three panel members from the candidates whose names were submitted. They are Dr. Michael Baden, chief medical examiner of New York City; Dr. John I. Coe, chief medical examiner of Hennepin County, Minn.; and Dr. Joseph H. Davis, chief medical examiner of Dade County, Fla.
Each, of course, is an expert in forensic pathology, and each, by virtue of education and experience, is highly qualified to conduct a medical-legal investigation to determine cause of death in cases of violent, suspicious, unexplained, unexpected, or medically unattended deaths. Each is also trained to account for attendant aspects of death which might have medical-legal significance.
Dr. Baden received an M.D. degree from the New York University School of Medicine in 1959 and completed his residency in pathology at Bellevue Hospital in 1964. He has been a visiting professor of pathology, Albert Einstein School of Medicine, adjunct professor of law, New York Law School, and lecturer in pathology at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University. A lecturer at various law and medical schools on legal medicine, he is presently an associate professor of forensic medicine at the NYU School of Medicine.
Dr. Baden has received certifications in anatomic pathology, clinical pathology, and forensic pathology from the American Board of Pathology. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, the College of American Pathologists, and the American Society of Clinical Pathologists.
Dr. Baden was a special forensic pathology consultant to the New York State organized crime task force that investigated the violence and deaths at Attica Prison, and he is a member of New York State commissions investigating deaths in prisons and mental hygiene hospitals. He is the author of numerous professional articles and books.
Dr. Coe received his M.D. degree from the University of Miami in 1945 and completed his residency in pathology in 1950.
Dr. Davis received his M.D. degree from Long Island College of Medicine in 1949 and completed his residency in pathology at the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in New Orleans.
Assisting the panel as a medical illustrator was Ida Dox of Georgetown University.
The panel has examined all relevant evidence, including clothing worn by Dr. King at the time of his death; the 30.06 rifle and bullet fragments recovered from his body; color and black and white photographs and 35 millimeter slides taken during the course of the autopsy; microscopic slides and tissue blocks from the autopsy and neuropathology study; the report of a committee panel on firearms evidence; medical reports, notes, and documents submitted by physicians who treated Dr. King and the autopsy surgeon; and the head and chest X-rays.
The panel, along with members of the committee staff, traveled to Memphis to view the crime scene. Joining the panel in Memphis were Herbert Koogle and Joseph Stewart of Koogle & Pouls Engineering Inc., of Albuquerque, N. Mex., the committee's engineering consultants.
The panel also met with Dr. Francisco and Drs. Rufus Brown and Ted Galyon, physicians who treated Dr. King at St. Joseph's Hospital.
The panel consulted with numerous other specialists in the course of its work.
Dr. Baden has been chosen by the panel to present its findings.
Mr. Chairman, it would be appropriate at this point to call Dr. Baden.
Chairman STOKES. At this time the committee calls Dr. Baden.
Would you stand, please, and be sworn?
You solemnly swear the testimony you will give before this committee is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
Dr. BADEN. I do.
Chairman STOKES. You may be seated.
Counsel, Mr. Webb, will proceed.
Mr. WEBB. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Will you state your name, please?
Testimony of Michael Baden, M.D.,
Chief Medical Examiner of New York City
Dr. BADEN. Michael Baden.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Baden, what is your profession?
Dr. BADEN. I am a physician and I specialize in forensic pathology.
Mr. WEBB. And what is your current position?
Dr. BADEN. I am presently chief medical examiner of the city of New York.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, you are here today acting as the spokesman for the committee's medical panel?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, I am.
Mr. WEBB. Will you identify the other members of the panel, please?
Dr. BADEN. The other members of the panel were Dr. Joseph Davis, chief medical examiner, Miami, Fla.; and Dr. John Coe, chief medical examiner, Minneapolis, Minn.
Mr. WEBB. During the course of its work did the panel have occasion to travel to Memphis, Tenn.?
Dr. BADEN. Yes.
Mr. WEBB. And what was the purpose of that trip?
Dr. BADEN. The purpose of the visit to Memphis, Tenn., was to view the scene of the homicide, interview various medical personnel who saw Dr. King after death and who participated in the autopsy and to correlate the findings that we had been able to make from the autopsy report, the medical reports that we had previously reviewed with the personnel present in Memphis who had treated Dr. King and to correlate the physical evidence with the crime scene.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, will you describe for the committee what occurred in Memphis?
Dr. BADEN. Present in Memphis with the three members of the medical panel were members of the committee staff and two engineers, Mr. Koogle and Mr. Stewart, who evaluated the distance from the Lorraine Motel to various sites at 418 Main Street area.
Mr. WEBB. In addition, did Mr. Koogle and Mr. Stewart conduct further tests to determine the angle of trajectory and also the distance to the bushy area in the rear of 418 to 424 South Main Street?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, in the course of our visit to Memphis, we did examine the buildings at 418 Main Street, the backyard area at 418, 424 Main Street, and together with the engineers observed and assisted in the development of trajectory patterns to the outside of room 306 at the Lorraine Motel.
Mr. WEBB. Did you have an opportunity to inspect and examine the area on the second floor balcony immediately outside of room 306 at, the Lorraine Motel?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; we did.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, are you familiar with the results obtained BY the engineering consultants?
Dr. BADEN. Yes.
Mr. WEBB. And would you briefly state for the committee what they were able to determine with respect to trajectory?
Dr. BADEN. At the time we were in Memphis together, the two engineers advised us after taking their measurements that trajectory patterns from the second floor bathroom window, which was one possible shooting site, and from a bushy area in the backyard, was perhaps 2 degrees to 5 degrees in difference in a trajectory path to the second floor of the balcony. We, the medical panel, discussed this matter and discussed this with the engineers and advised them and advised the staff that the autopsy procedure itself is not sufficiently accurate to distinguish that small a difference in degree deviation.
Mr. WEBB. So if I understand you, Dr. Baden, based on the input of the engineers and finally your analysis of the autopsy material, a pathologist would be unable to determine a difference of 2 1/2 degrees to 5 degrees in a wound trajectory?
Dr. BADEN. That is correct, Mr. Webb. An autopsy can reveal many scientific materials but it is also limited and there are things that an autopsy cannot discover and an autopsy cannot distinguish between a trajectory flight of 20 to 50 in this situation.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, in order to facilitate Dr. Baden's discussion of Dr. King's injuries, the committee has employed the services of Mrs. Ida Dox, a medical illustrator, to prepare a number of drawings which will be used as exhibits. Dr. Baden, will you describe Ms. Dox's training and the manner in which she worked with the panel?
Dr. BADEN. Ms. Ida Dox is a medical illustrator from Georgetown University School of Medicine and Dentistry who has had a very strong training and background in anatomy, including cadaver dissection and worked very closely with the three members of the medical panel in drawing the medical findings, autopsy findings, from our medical knowledge and from the various black and white and color photographs that had been taken of Dr. King prior to autopsy.
Mr. WEBB. So it is fair to say, that from a medical standpoint, these photographs represent an accurate representation of Dr. King's injuries?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, the photographs are true and accurate representations of the injuries seen at the time of examinations by physicians of Dr. King in 1968.
Mr. WEBB. And have you had a chance to discuss the drawings and photographs with the various personnel who treated Dr. King both at St. Joseph's Hospital in Memphis and with Dr. Francisco, the autopsy pathologist?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, we have. And the medical panel is satisfied fully that the drawings are accurate representations of the injuries suffered by Dr. King.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, will you step to the easel. Using the various drawings to illustrate your testimony I would like to proceed to describe Dr. King's injuries.
Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like, to have the first drawing entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-1.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it will be entered for the record at this point.
[Whereupon, Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-1 was marked for identification and entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-1
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, will you describe for the committee what is depicted in this exhibit?
Dr. BADEN. The first exhibit is a drawing from various photographs taken of the wound and injury pattern of Dr. King just prior to autopsy but after medical attention had been given to Dr. King in the emergency room at St. Joseph's Hospital and illustrates the initial gunshot wound of entrance, which is up near 2 o'clock from your prospective, approximately 1 inch to the right of the angle of the mouth and 1/2-inch below the angle of the mouth where the bullet, a high velocity rifle bullet, struck the check causing an entrance perforation, with the superior part still intact, a typical entrance abrasion collar and causing bursting lacerations of the inferior aspect of the cheek and chin, in part caused by the high velocity of the missile and in part caused by the fracture effects when the bullet struck the jawbone or mandible in this area.
There are many fragments of bone present. The doctors describe this perforation of the cheek as entering into the mouth proper, and the bullet then exited the bottom portion of the right side of the chin and reentered in the root or base of the neck, above the collar bone, and continued from right to left, from front to back, and in a downward direction in the body proper.
The injury caused by the missile, the rifle bullet, has been distorted somewhat by the resuscitation attempts performed at the hospital emergency room. Specifically, there has been elongation made of the lower border of the reentrance wound in an attempt at surgical intervention to stop the bleeding that was present.
In the next exhibit, Mr. Webb, if I may --
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like the next drawing entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-2.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it may be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, a drawing marked Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-2 for identification was entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-2
Dr. BADEN. The next exhibit was an attempt at reconstruction by the medical panel, together with Ms. Dox and the treating physicians at St. Joseph's Hospital, who went over this material with us to reapproximate what the injury was prior to the surgical intervention.
The top portion is the same. The entrance perforation and bursting explosive-like injury caused on impact, as well as the reentrance wound reapproximated. The dotted line extending downward toward 6 o'clock is the reconstructed surgical incision made by the physicians in the emergency room to better stop the bleeding and this caused the appearance which was seen in the previous drawing with enlargement of the lower border of the entrance of perforation. Not shown on the diagram is a tracheotomy, an incision that was made on an emergency basis to assist Dr. King in breathing when he came to the emergency room.
If you will note, there is a bridge of skin still intact in the neck which represents the inner crease of the neck, which was not torn completely through when the missile entered, exited and re-entered, and assisted Dr. Francisco, the chief medical examiner in Tennessee, who did the autopsy, in determining that Dr. King's position of the head had to be downward and slightly to the right at the time of the impact so that the trajectory, the track through the body, spared the inner crease in the neck when held in that position.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, Dr. Francisco in his autopsy report identified a blackened debris present in the skin which he described as having an unidentifiable form. Did the panel consider the section of skin that Dr. Francisco referred to?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, Mr. Webb. In evaluating and preparing the diagrams and drawings, the panel did have the benefit of the autopsy report, medical reports, all the microscopic sections and slides that had been made, the paraffin blocks that are normally made in preparing microscopic slides, the X-rays, and interviews with the doctors involved. We did identify two slides of skin microscopic sections normally taken at autopsy examinations, with Dr. Francisco as being taken from this area of entrance and within those fragments of skin were some black debris which is not uncommon to see in gunshot wounds of entrance. The panel was entirely satisfied that the black debris in no way represented powder, which would indicate closeness of the gunshot wound but did indicate debris that can be seen in distant gunshot wounds.
We did, with the assistance of the committee, speak with a company in Chicago that is an expert in trace evidence, McCrone Associates, and they were able to remove by micromethods a portion of this black debris and were able by various tests to identify the black debris as lead which is what we would expect to derive from the soft nose of the bullet in question which is composed of lead, and the panel is entirely satisfied that the black debris seen in the skin derives from the nose of the bullet.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, will the complete report of McCrone Associates, as well as the other materials you have referred to, be appended to the panel's final report?
Dr. BADEN. Yes.
Mr. WEBB. Would you continue to describe the nature of the injuries depicted in MLK exhibit No. F-2?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; the drawings do identify clearly the site of entrance of the gunshot wound. The next drawing will identify where the bullet lodged and terminated.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like the next drawing, entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-3.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it will be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, a drawing marked Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-3 for identification was entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-3
Dr. BADEN. The next exhibit is a drawing and tracing, as the other two were, of Dr. King as seen in one of the black and white photographs taken after death and prior to autopsy with Dr. King lying on his right side on a stretcher. So the right shoulder is against the stretcher, and the left shoulder is up, and in the left upper back, three inches to the left of the midline of the body -- the midline being where the spine is present -- is a protuberance of the skin showing where the bullet lodged or the remnant of the bullet lodged at the termination of the track in the body. The bullet entered in the right chin and neck area, went through, of course, through the body and terminated just beneath the skin on the left upper back, and it is not uncommon for bullets to so lodge beneath the skin because of the various properties of the skin that inhibit bullets from passing through it.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, did the panel have occasion to examine the clothing worn by Dr. King at the time of his death?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; the clothing worn by Dr. King had been preserved and was made available for inspection by the medical panel.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, the next series of exhibits are photographic enlargements of Dr. King's clothing. At this time, I would like to have the first such exhibit entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-4.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection it will be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, the above-mentioned photograph marked MLK exhibit No. F-4 for identification was entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-4
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, will you describe for the committee what can be seen in this exhibit?
Dr. BADEN. The next exhibit shows the suit jacket that Dr. King was wearing at the time the gunshot wound was inflicted and shows tearing of the inner portion of the lapel of the jacket where the bullet track passed from beneath the skin on the right side into the neck region. The lapel of the jacket was not completely torn through. Only the outer lining of the suit material is torn, which is entirely consistent with our judgment that the jacket was at the border of the entrance perforation.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like to have the next photograph entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-5.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it will be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, the above-mentioned photograph marked MLK exhibit No. F-5 for identification was entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-5
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, will you describe this exhibit for the committee, please?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; the bullet missile after leaving the chin continued through the clothing in the area of the upper neck region and tangently struck the outer jacket but did perforate through the collar as depicted in the photograph on this exhibit, and this collar is torn through and can better be seen on the next photograph when the collar is stretched out in the course of the track of the missile.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like to have the next exhibit, the photograph of Dr. King's shirt, entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-6.
Chairman STOKES. Without, objection, it will be entered into the record at this point.
Mr. WEBB. Thank you.
[Whereupon, a photograph marked Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-6 for identification was entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-6
Dr. BADEN. This exhibit shows the laceration, the tearing of the fabric of the shirt which was interposed in the course of the bullet track, and this did permit chemical tests on the shirt and on the jacket in 1968, and again recently by the expert consultants for the committee which demonstrated in 1968 and again now that there was no powder residue on the clothing as there was none on the skin and which indicates that the gunshot firing was not close or not content.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, the recent testing you refer to is the testing done by the firearm panel hired by the committee.
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. WEBB. Would you identify the name of the test they employed, please?
Dr. BADEN. There were a number of tests done. The clothing was looked at with a naked eye. It was looked at with a microscopic lens and there was no powder residue apparent. A chemical test for nitrites, the Griess test, was performed, which would identify nitrites which is a product of gunpowder residue produced as a bullet is fired from the barrel of a gun. This was not present but a sodium rhodizionate test for lead particles was present, was positive, and did indicate as was present in the skin, particles of lead entirely consistent with deriving from the nose of the bullet that did lodge in the fabric around the tears of the jacket and the shirt.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, so that I understand you correctly, the difference, between MLK exhibit No. F-6, and the previous exhibit is that in MLK exhibit No. F-5 the shirt was in the wearing position where as in this exhibit the shirt is stretched out to illustrate the wound.
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, I think this shows the tear of the fabric more clearly than the previous one, but the prior exhibit showed the shirt as it would have been worn.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like to have entered into the record the final photograph exhibit of clothing as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-7.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it will be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, a photograph marked Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-7, for identification, was entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-7
Mr. WEBB. Thank you. Dr. Baden, will you describe what is depicted in this photograph, please?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, Mr. Webb. This photograph shows the tie worn by Dr. King and the tearing on the right lower border where the missile went through the clothing of Dr. King and does indicate approximately where the reentrance perforation was on the body of Dr. King having gone through the area of the shirt and tie and jacket.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, can you state whether or not the severed area of the tie was subjected to the sodium rhodizionate testing?
Dr. BADEN. I believe that the tie was also so tested and also had some lead particulate matter.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, was the panel able to reconstruct the wound track through the body?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; the panel was, did do such a reconstruction.
Mr. WEBB. And can you tell us what was the primary basis or the primary material you used to accomplish that?
Dr. BADEN. In addition to the autopsy report, the medical reports, the clothing, the photographs, of great value to the medical panel, in reconstructing the track in the body were X-rays taken after death and prior to autopsy at St. Joseph Hospital and made available to the committee.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like to have two X-rays of Dr. King entered into the record as Martin Luther King's exhibits F-8 and F-9.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, they will be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, the several X-rays of Dr. King, marked respectively MLK exhibit Nos. F-8 and F-9 for identification were entered into the record, and follow:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-8
MLK EXHIBIT F-9
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, using these exhibits would you describe the track of the wound through the body?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir. Mr. Webb.
The X-ray seen here shows the fractures of the right jawbone, the right mandible, with little white flecks of metal indicating fragments of the bullet that remained in the mandible after impact. This does show Dr. King in the anatomic position: when X-rays are taken of this nature and when autopsies are performed all measurements are made as if the decedent were laying flat on the back with the head and body straight, the arms at the side, palms frontward position and this is referred to as the anatomic position.
And in this manner, the face is pointing forward, the fractures of the mandible and metal fragments are seen at the side of the Jaw, there are a few fragments present in the skin at the base of the neck and
about 8:30 almost 9 o'clock on the diagram are multiple fragments where the missile reentered just above the collar bone or clavicle which was intact. The track is provided by X-ray. And as we had full cooperation from Dr. Francisco and his staff in reconstructing what happened, we also had full cooperation from various radiologists, X-ray experts, in consulting what is on these films. The track proceeds from right to left, spraying fragments of metal in the course, because of the impact with bone, the mandibular bone and various ribs that were fractured, and part of the spine that was fractured. At each impact more metal fragmented.
The track proceeds to the left and on the leftmost portion of the X-ray is the main missile fragment, which weighed about 65 grains when recovered, which is a little less than half of its original size which would have been 150 grains. Now, all this white material is metal bullet fragments. On the X- ray, on my far left, one can see more clearly the fractures of the ribs, the first rib and the second rib, in the back, which have been fractured in the course of the missile track.
There are fractures along the spine, about the lowermost cervical vertebra and the uppermost thoracic vertebra. There is spin injury that is very severe, and the missile track continues into the left upper back region. The X-ray also shows how the fragment is movable depending on position of the body. Whereas the fragment here is within the shadow of the clavicle or collarbone, in this X-ray, the bullet is above it because of slight movement of the body. This has pertinence in determining the bullet track through the body. Whereas on this X-ray the bullet track almost appears horizontal in this other X-ray it is downward, perhaps a 30 degree angle; the track in the body varies greatly on position of the body at autopsy.
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, you have identified a number of bony structures fractured by the bullet in its course through the body, would this have had a relationship to the direction the bullet took through the body?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; although bullets essentially travel in a straight line, even after striking areas of the body, the boney structures in this particular instance, the jawbone, the back of the ribs, spine, are of substantial nature, and could cause deflection from a straight line of some or many degrees.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time I would like Ms. Dox's final drawing entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-10.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it will be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-10 was marked for identification and entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-10
Mr. WEBB. Dr. Baden, will you use this drawing to summarize the findings of the panel with respect to the wound track and the nature of Dr. King's injuries?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
This is a reconstruction done by Ms. Dox in close consultation with the medical panel, it is not a tracing of prior graphs. It does illustrate the path of the bullet in the body, beginning 1 inch to the right, and a half inch below the angle of the mouth, causing extensive fractures of the mandible of the jawbone, continuing downward injuring many vital structures at the base of the neck.
This area of injury is identified by a shaded line because we, the panel, felt that we could not be precise in identifying all of the structures injured. There are major blood vessels, major nerves present in
this area, the spinal column is present, and, what is drawn are areas that we felt are specifically injured, the internal jugular vein which is the main blood vessel bringing blood from the brain to the heart, the common carotid artery, behind it, which is the main blood vessel bringing blood to the brain, the subclavian artery branch, which brings blood to the right arm, the vertebral artery which brings blood to the back of the brain itself, were all in the opinion of the medical panel injured by this high velocity missile wound. The various black areas show many, but not all, of the bullet fragments that are deposited in the course of the gunshot track and which are evident on the X-rays.
And on the back is the major fragment that was removed and subjected to various ballistics tests, and this black area would represent the recovered major bullet fragment as we had seen protruding in the left upper back region on a previous exhibit.
Mr. WEBB. Will you describe the nature of the injuries with respect to the ribs?
Dr. BADEN. The first two ribs are illustrated in the drawing diagram here and the back portion where the rib meets the spine are clearly fractured and have been displaced on the X-rays.
This is illustrated in the diagram and at this point where the rib joins the spine there is extensive injury to the spinal column, the bony structure, within which the spinal cord resides, and this was extensive, the bones were extensively damaged.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Chairman, at this time, counsel would have no further questions of the witness.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you, counsel. Dr. Baden, you may return to the witness table.
At this time the Chair recognizes the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. McKinney, for such questioning in such time as he may consume after which the other members will examine the witness under the 5- minute rule.
MR. McKINNEY. Dr. Baden, good to see you again. Thank you for your help. Did the panel review the medical treatment that was given Dr. King right after his being shot?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, we reviewed the medical records kept at St. .Joseph Hospital and we did speak at some length with two of the treating doctors, Dr. Galyon and Dr. Rufus Brown, in Memphis who were very cooperative.
Mr. McKINNEY. So, in other words, you reviewed the records and talked to the attending physicians?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. McKINNEY. Can you describe for the committee what sort of treatment Dr. King received?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, in critical review the committee was entirely impressed with the vigorous medical attention Dr. King did receive when he arrived at 6:15 at the hospital emergency room and that Dr. King did indeed have a pulse, the heart was still beating, when he arrived, but that in fact the brain was irreparably damaged from lack of oxygen from the point of admission to the hospital, that the doctors did vigorously attempt to apply appropriate resuscitation measures, including surgical procedures, and that after almost an hour, 50 minutes of this intensive medical treatment, did determine that Dr. King's life was irretrievable.
Mr. McKINNEY. Did the panel come to any specific conclusions with respect to the actual cause of Dr. King's death?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; the panel felt that the cause of death was a combination of extensive hemorrhage and blood vessel injuries as well as damage to the nerves and spine, spinal cord of Dr. King. Now in part that was arrived at because of the findings of doctors in the emergency room and their written material at the time.
Mr. McKINNEY. Were the panel's conclusions consistent with the findings of Dr. Francisco and his autopsy?
Dr. BADEN. In general terms yes, but with some slight distinction. Dr. Francisco classified the cause of death as severance of the spinal cord, which is the main pathway for all impulses from the brain to the rest of the body. This was concluded from the autopsy proper and subsequently from discussions with the various doctors involved, but the track itself was not dissected because Dr. Francisco felt it was unnecessary, and an unnecessary mutilation of the body at that time.
So the medical pathology panel in reviewing the findings was not able, was not able to be specific as to whether the cord was actually cut and transsected completely but we were satisfied that the closeness of the missile track through this area of the body would have caused significant damage to the cord, to the spinal cord, even if it was not mechanically cut in half because of the lines of force emanating from the bullet as it struck the spine bones proper.
Mr. McKINNEY. Was the panel able to determine in any way the origin of the fatal shot?
Dr. BADEN. In a general term, that the reconstruction of the injury, seen at the autopsy and photographs, indicate that Dr. King had to have been in a position with his face downward and to the right and that the missile would have had to come from an area to his right. We could not distinguish between the second floor of the bathroom at 418 South Main Street and the bushy area in the yard behind it; that we could not distinguish.
Mr. McKINNEY. In other words, we have no direct knowledge of what Dr. King's position really was when he was standing on the balcony?
Dr. BADEN. We don't have it specifically but we have an approximation from witnesses and even if we, if there were a photograph of Dr. King standing in a precise position at the time of impact of the missile, the autopsy itself cannot distinguish between the 2 to 5 degree difference between the bathroom window and the grassy knoll.
Mr. McKINNEY. But there is nothing inconsistent, according to your findings between the second floor of Bessie Brewers or the ground level behind the roominghouse?
Dr. BADEN. That is correct. This is entirely consistent with either of those positions and which position it was would have to be concluded by other types of investigations beyond the autopsy.
Mr. McKINNEY. Did the panel review the autopsy procedures used on Dr. King by Dr. Francisco?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; Mr. McKinney.
Mr. McKINNEY. Do you think that the autopsy was sufficient and do you essentially agree with it?
Dr. BADEN. The medical panel agrees with the conclusions that Dr. King died as a result of a single high- velocity rifle injury through the
face and body as described. And we agree that the findings of Dr. Francisco, the autopsy of Dr. Francisco, who is a fine forensic pathologist, did establish a valid and satisfactory cause of death. However, if one looks to an autopsy to answer questions other than cause of death, then the tracing of the bullet track proper at the time of autopsy would have given additional information for questions that might arise later. And in this regard, I would say parenthetically, that unfortunately in these United States there is no standard as to how to do an autopsy examination of a person who dies as a result of homicide and one of the charges given to us by Professor Blakey has been to evaluate the area of homicide autopsy investigation as presently exists.
Mr. McKINNEY. Well, based upon your rather long experience in this business, is the wound that occurred consistent with the type of gun that is alleged to have done the shooting, and from that distance?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, Mr. McKinney, the injuries seen on Dr. King with the bursting explosive-like injury to the face and the trajectory and pathway through the body and the injuries incurred, are entirely consistent with a 30.06 rifle as was used in this instance.
Mr. McKINNEY. So that we can rule out as a conclusion, he might have been shot from close up?
Dr. BADEN. We can say that beyond reasonable medical and scientific certainty that the muzzle of the rifle was not close up to the body. It had to be a rifle because it is a 30.06 bullet that was recovered and that we evaluated and looked at; in fact, Mr. McKinney, may I just show another exhibit?
Mr. McKINNEY. Certainly.
Dr. BADEN. In fact, this is a photograph taken by Dr. Francisco of the bullet that he removed from Dr. King at the time of autopsy and which he labeled with the number 252, and he identified with this photograph in a smaller version to the medical panel as the same missile he retrieved in 1968. This shows the copper jacketing, this is a 30.06 bullet that was removed and there have been --
Chairman STOKES. May we have that particular exhibit identified, Mr. Webb, will you identify it for us?
Mr. WEBB. Yes, Mr. Chairman, this exhibit is composed of two photographs of the same bullet fragment and we would ask it be entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-12.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it may be introduced.
[Whereupon, Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-12 was marked for identification for the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-12
Dr. BADEN. The low portion is the base with the Dr. Francisco marking on it and the upper photograph shows the side with lands and grooves and the deformity of the front of the bullet which was softnosed lead, not covered with a jacket, that was deformed on impact with the very strong mandible and very strong spine bones.
Mr. WEBB. Since Dr. Baden plans to use the next photograph as an exhibit, we would ask that it be entered into the record as Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-13. For the record, it is a photograph of the same bullet which appears in MLK exhibit No. F-12 except that in this exhibit the bullet is in three fragments.
Chairman STOKES. Without objection, it may be entered into the record at this point.
[Whereupon, the above-mentioned photograph marked Martin Luther King exhibit No. F-13 for identification was entered into the record, and follows:]
MLK EXHIBIT F-13
Dr. BADEN. Mr. McKinney, this is an answer to the question about the bullet itself which we can identify without question as being the one that caused the injuries because of prior identification by Dr. Francisco; he removed it and saw it on X-ray. When we looked at the bullet, when the medical panel looked at the bullet piece presently in the possession of the committee it was in three pieces because the lead core had loosened over the years and in fact was in three portions when Dr. Francisco testified in the trial in Memphis in 1969. But, it is the same bullet with the lead core out, the metal jacket with the number at the base and another portion of the metal jacket and we know that this bullet was retrieved from Dr. King; and we do know from the lack of any gun powder residues on the face or clothing, as seen in photographs, pictures, and the microscopic slides of the skin, and on tests of the clothing, that this could not have been a contact or a near discharge of the weapon. It had to be from a distance, it least beyond 3 or 4 feet, which is the limit of sensitivity of these tests.
Entirely consistent with being at the Main Street suggested area of shooting.
Mr. McKINNEY. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, I have no further questions.
Chairman STOKES. OK, thank you Mr. McKinney, Dr. Baden, at one point there when Mr. McKinney was questioning you you inad-
vertently used the term grassy knoll, you had reference to the bushy area.
Dr. BADEN. Grassy bush, yes, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from North Carolina, Judge Preyer.
Mr. PREYER. Thank you, Dr. Baden, we appreciate your thoroughness. I think it may have some more important long-range effects than might appear immediately, and it may sometimes appear as if we are belaboring the obvious here, but, one thing which needs to be determined is the trajectory pattern. You have indicated that an autopsy cannot distinguish the small difference between a trajectory from the bushes and from the bathroom window?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. PREYER. So that in the future, I don't think the idea that perhaps if a proper autopsy or scientific investigation had been done we would know exactly from whence it came, that is a question that should occur here.
Dr. BADEN. That is correct.
Mr. PREYER. Also on the powder debris, you have worked with, as I understand it, a series of chemical tests, on the tie, on the shirt material, and from the skin of the wound itself, and have indicated that that power could only be from the lead tip of the bullet. Is that correct; it could not be fired from close in?
Dr. BADEN. That is correct, it is actually lead from bullet material rather than powder from the close discharge of a bullet. Yes, sir.
Mr. PREYER. And that it of course had to be a rifle and not a pistol?
Dr. BADEN. That is correct, and that is determined by finding the bullet and also by the nature of the wound itself which is of a high velocity type as opposed to a pistol which is low velocity generally.
Mr. PREYER. Thank you, Dr. Baden. We appreciate your testimony.
Dr. BADEN. Thank you.
Chairman STOKES. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Ohio, Mr. Devine.
Mr. DEVINE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Baden, do both Dr. Coe and Dr. Davis agree, with the findings that you have related to this panel here this morning?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. DEVINE. Any area of dissent among the three of you?
Dr. BADEN. The only area of difference would not be any of the findings that I have related but as to the concept of how extensive an autopsy should be done in a homicidal situation and particularly relative to the question Mr. McKinney asked whether the bullet track should have been dissected. That is a subjective decision that a forensic pathologist has to make based on family wishes, police wishes, as well in anticipation of further medical or legal questions that might arise, and whereas one forensic pathologist might feel that the track should be extensively dissected, another might feel that what was done answered the questions and dissection was not necessary. That is an area I think where each of us would have a slight difference of opinion.
Mr. DEVINE. Otherwise you are testifying to what either of the other two gentlemen would have testified had they appeared here this morning?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. DEVINE. Did the three of you visit the bathroom and the roominghouse that was adjacent to the Lorraine Motel?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. DEVINE. You viewed from that window the balcony upon which Dr. King was standing?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, we stood in the bathroom at the main street, South Main Street 418 and viewed the balcony and then went to the balcony and viewed the bathroom and the yard area, visited the yard area.
Mr. DEVINE. And was your conclusion, as a forensic pathologist, that the bullet that entered Dr. King may have been fired from that area or that vicinity?
Dr. BADEN. Our conclusions were that it was entirely consistent with the bullet having been fired from the bathroom area, yes.
Mr. DEVINE. Doctor, as a former prosecuting attorney and having examined a number of pathologists, as well as witnessing a number of autopsies, I want to thank you for your objectivity, your professional approach, and lack of equivocation. Your testimony is quite helpful to the panel.
Dr. BADEN. Thank you, sir.
Chairman STOKES. The House is in session and the second bells have rung, the committee will take a 10- minute recess at this time.
[A brief recess was taken.]
Chairman STOKES. The committee will come back to order.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to thank the witness for his testimony. I just have one or two questions. I think it is one. I would like to summarize if I could with you, Doctor, your testimony. Is it your conclusion or conclusions of the panel that in fact, that both wounds, the jaw wound and the neck wound were caused by the same projectile?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, without question, that is the conclusion of the panel.
Mr. DODD. And is there any doubt in your own mind that the projectile recovered from Dr. King's body was in fact the cause of his death?
Dr. BADEN. No doubt at all, Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD. And was it furthermore your testimony that the position of the projectile and the best evidence you have on the position of Dr. King at the time of impact would lead you to believe that a shot fired from either that wooded area or in that vertical line somewhere was consistent with the wounds that were caused by that projectile?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, that there is no question in that area is consistent from whence the shot came.
Mr. DODD. Thank you. I have no further questions.
Chairman STOKES. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from the District of Columbia, Mr. Fauntroy.
Mr. FAUNTROY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And I apologize to the committee for having had to be in attendance at a District Committee meeting, dealing with the commuter tax, and I want to thank the panel, Dr. Baden, for their testimony here today.
My son has had an opportunity to bring me up to date on your presentations to the committee, and I just want to be sure of a couple of
things. The first, Dr. Baden, is that it is clear that the bullet which struck Dr. King came from the right. Is it safe to say that it came from above?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. FAUNTROY. Is it safe to say that it could not have come, say, from the around?
Dr. BADEN. On the basis of the autopsy alone, we cannot be certain as to which direction the bullet came from except up or down, except if we incorporate other information as to Dr. King's approximate position that we feel is reliable, that he was standing on the balcony and not lying down, for example, at the time of firing. The committee concluded utilizing other nonautopsy material and information that the missile would have come from slightly above or perhaps horizontal.
Mr. FAUNTROY. But certainly not from below.
Dr. BADEN. Not from below the balcony.
Mr. FAUNTROY. Is it clear also that only one shot was fired?
Dr. BADEN. It is clear from the autopsy that one and only one shot struck Dr. King. We could not, for example, relate to misses, a shot that missed, but one and only one shot high-velocity rifle bullet struck Dr. King.
Mr. FAUNTROY. Now, was the amount of lead present in the body consistent with what would have remained from a 150-grain bullet after the 64-grain fragment had been removed?
Dr. BADEN. Our basis for reaching a judgment to that question, sir, specifically, includes the X-rays available to the panel, of which there were approximately seven, some original and some not original, and that these X-rays together with the autopsy findings clearly indicate that the amount of bullet fragments in the body are entirely consistent with deriving from the single bullet of which 64 to 65 grains were recovered. The remainder is consistent with what is missing from the bullet.
Mr. FAUNTROY. Thank you, Dr. Baden. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. Gentleman from Michigan, Mr. Sawyer.
Mr. SAWYER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Just one question, Doctor. It is true, is it not, when a high- velocity missile or bullet strikes a body that it causes extensive damage and severe damage to tissue out beyond its track because of the lines of force it creates within the body, isn't that true?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, that is very much true, and that is pertinent in part to the injuries to Dr. King because we do know, for example, that the spine, the spinebones, lower neck, and upper chest spinebones were impacted by the bullet. If the bullet continued through the spinal canal, it would have severed the spinal cord. If it didn't continue through the spinal canal and severed the spinal cord, the lines of force from the impact would have severely damaged the spinal cord without even touching it; and much of the extensive hemorrhaging and destruction of the tissues in the face and neck area of Dr. King were due to the lines of force that you allude to, sir.
Mr. SAWYER. Thank you. That is all I have.
Chairman STOKES. The gentlewoman from California, Mrs. Burke.
Mrs. BURKE. Thank you very much, Dr. Baden. I have a couple of questions. You indicate that based upon the lack of powder burns that the projectile could not have been fired from less than 2 feet. Is there
a maximum in footage from which it could have been fired to produce the wound and the other damage?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; and your question goes beyond the expertise of this medical panel and into the expertise of the firearms panel, which has information specifically to the point you are raising; but a rifle of this type could inflict this type of damage beyond 100 yards, for example, and maybe well beyond that, which information will be available to the committee when the firearms panel testifies.
Mrs. BURKE. You indicated there was other information that you used in order to determine the direction of the trajectory. You say, for instance, he had to be standing, not lying down. Could you give us the information or collateral information you based your findings on?
Dr. BADEN. The point I tried to make was that at autopsy we inspect a track or determine a track and the relative relationship between a gun or rifle and the track at the moment of firing. At the moment of firing of this weapon, the barrel of the gun had to be somewhat in a slightly downward from the horizontal position in relationship to striking the chin and the body. Now, that is what we can tell at autopsy. Whether Dr. King was laving on his back or frontward or on the side or on the opposite side, this same trajectory could be maintained as, long as the relationship between the firearm and the body is kept intact; so one could have a similar track if he were standing on his head, for example, if the person firing were in the appropriate position. The additional information that the committee utilized in determining consistency to the bathroom window, for example, was that he had been seen to be standing upright and had been against the railing that was on the balcony and he was talking to somebody who was below; although we established that he was upright, we cannot know how much he hunched forward or backward, but that immediately limits the possibilities and makes the trajectory as coming from the direction of 418 South Main Street, reasonable.
Mrs. BURKE. Well, what I am trying to get at is whether you assume that he was in a certain position or place on the balcony? Did you assume -- I am trying to determine all of the assumptions that you made in order to arrive at that conclusion. Did you determine he was against the rail?
Dr. BADEN. We had information that appeared reasonable to us that he was touching the railing, standing up outside of the room in front of which he died. We cannot establish for purposes specifically of the engineers how high his cheek was, the point of entry, from the ground. In the autopsy protocol, the entrance in the cheek is, I believe, 59 inches above the right heel, which is a true type of measurement taken at autopsy. If he were standing bolt upright in the anatomical position looking straight ahead, this point of impact would have been 59 inches above the ground. If he were bent forward as in normal posture, this point could have been as low as 54 inches off the ground. We felt that a reasonable and accurate determination was approximately 56 inches off the ground at the point of impact and gave this information to the engineering members to utilize as their point of reference above the ground of the balcony. However, in consultation with the engineers who were there, it became readily apparent that the difference in the trajectory from the backyard or the bathroom window between 59 inches and 54 inches, the outermost limits that we felt were reason
able, was less than 1 degree in the flight pattern. Each inch reflects about 1 1/2 minutes of trajectory, so that the sensitivity of the engineers in developing their track was much greater than the autopsy findings, which cannot distinguish 5 degrees or 10 degrees in this kind of a situation. But that is part of the information we used in arriving at what we thought was a reasonable position for Dr. King. We did look at photographs of Dr. King as he lay on the balcony. We did have information as to persons who were present. We felt it was a reasonable --
Chairman STOKES. Time of the gentlewoman has expired.
Mrs. BURKE. Just a very short question.
Chairman STOKES. You are recognized.
Mrs. BURKE. You mentioned that there was a difference between your findings and the autopsy as to whether or not the spinal column was severed, whether or not it was damaged. Were there any other areas in which you found a difference in your findings and the findings of the autopsy?
Dr. BADEN. Another area of concern was in specific localization of which blood vessels in the neck were torn; the shaded area in the drawing indicates the area that we feel with medical certainty was damaged. Whether or not the common carotid artery, for example, was severed is not fully clear from all the evidence that we have, but the evidence does indicate that the subclavian artery was severed, and from the point of view of medical treatment, from the point of view of survivability of Dr. King, there is no importance to this distinction. However, from the point of view of the medical panel in reviewing the autopsy medical evidence at hand, we wanted to be as accurate as possible, and where we could be certain, to be certain; when we can't be certain, as in the areas that have just arisen, we described what we think probably happened. There probably was damage to the common carotid area, but we can't be certain about it.
Chairman STOKES. Time has expired. Mr. Ford, the gentleman from Tennessee.
Mr. FORD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Doctor, the name of a Dr. Sprunt appears on the autopsy report along with Dr. Francisco as the pathologist. Were you able to determine what role he played in the autopsy findings?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, on our visit to Memphis and in our interviews with Dr. Francisco, we specifically asked him about Dr. Sprunt's contribution to the autopsy and were definitely advised that Dr. Sprunt's name was placed on the autopsy protocol, as was customary at that time, because he was chairman of the department of pathology and had certain legal responsibilities deriving therefrom, but that Dr. Sprunt was not present at the time of autopsy and did not contribute to the autopsy. It was a policy of adding his name to the protocol because he was chairman of the department and did not necessarily mean that he participated in the autopsy.
Mr. FORD. Will you describe any constraints Dr. Francisco may have operated under in performing the autopsy on Dr. King?
Dr. BADEN. The medical panel in interviews with Dr. Francisco were satisfied that Dr. Francisco did not feel any constraints. He expressed to us, very strongly, that he did what he thought was necessary without any constraints from any parties. One of the areas that the medical panel questioned, and will be present in the final report of the
medical panel, has to do with an attitude of who has responsibility in performing of autopsies in homicidal deaths? Does the next of kin, for example? Should the next of kin have a voice in homicidal deaths as to whether or not an autopsy should be done, or as to how it should be done? It is felt by some of us in forensic pathology that the societal interest in the dead body overrides family interests; in Tennessee, at the time, there was a policy in all homicidal deaths of obtaining permission of the next of kin prior to autopsy.
It is difficult for members of the panel to evaluate creation of an attitude of possible constraint, especially those as myself who come from other jurisdictions where no such next of kin requirement is necessary. We do what we think is appropriate, and we can be called to task for it if we exceed our authority. So that specifically, in answer to your question, there was the necessity to obtain next, of kin, if not by law, by custom; that is, the district attorney orders the autopsy in Tennessee at the time and by custom did obtain permission from the widow of the decedent. Dr. Francisco felt that this in no way caused any constraints on him and that his concerns about not causing any unnecessary deformity to the body by dissecting the back and the track arose entirely from his sensitivity to the treatment of the dead body and not from any outside party.
Mr. FORD. Doctor, you mentioned a policy. Does Tennessee law have any provisions which may have affected the autopsy, that you know of?
Dr. BADEN. I am aware of certain legal requirements in Tennessee law but I would not wish to trust to memory and I would defer to Mr. Webb perhaps who is more aware of the legal requirements in Tennessee as existed at that time.
Chairman STOKES. The Chair recognizes counsel for the committee, Mr. Webb.
Mr. WEBB. Mr. Ford, in answer to your question, in Tennessee at the time there was a requirement that the district attorney general order all autopsies as opposed to the medical examiner, as is the custom in many States. This means that Dr. Francisco first had to turn to Mr. Canale for permission to perform an autopsy. At that point the custom of seeking the approval of the next of kin came into play. Mr. Canale required that next of kin be sent a notification of the intent to perform an autopsy. Mr. Canale further required that next of kin's permission be sought and, whenever available, obtained prior to the autopsy being commenced.
That would have been the difference in Tennessee law at the time as opposed to some other jurisdictions.
Mr. FORD. Thank you. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired, the gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Fithian.
Mr. FITHIAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Dr. Baden, I appreciate your testimony. And I want to review specifically with you, you did say that the shot could not have been fired from say the courtyard below?
Dr. BADEN. It could not have been fired from the courtyard below, assuming that we have that Dr. King was in a standing position at the time of the injury.
Mr. FITHIAN. And it could not have been fired from say the firehouse across the street, and far to the left, is that your testimony?
Dr. BADEN. It could not have been fired from that area if we assume as we have some evidence for, that Dr. King was standing upright facing the courtyard and slightly turned to the right -- the head slightly turned to the right.
Mr. FITHIAN. So assuming Dr. King was not facing into the motel room, and was facing out and speaking down to someone in the courtyard, from that position then you narrow the scope of the degree from which the bullet had to come?
Dr. BADEN. That is right.
Mr. FITHIAN. But the engineering combined with your pathology cannot determine or distinguish the azimuth as to whether it came from the second story window or from the ground in the yard below the window, is that correct?
Dr. BADEN. That is correct, sir.
Mr. FITHIAN. Would you now and this is my final question, Mr. Chairman, would you now using a chair there as the railing, assume for me as nearly as you can, what you think Dr. King's position would have had to have been in order for the bullet to have made the bullet track it did, assuming that it came from either the second story window or from the bushy area.
Dr. BADEN. Attempting to respond to that question, sir, if I assumed that the railing is this chair, and I am looking straight out into the courtyard area below, the relative position of the body to the missile would have had to have been head downward from the nature of the entrance wound, exit, and reentrance into the body; head downward, slightly to the right, and the missile coming in somewhat in this direction [indicating]. I wouldn't want to be specific without measuring out all the parameters, but, in this direction.
Now, relative to your question, if I am standing, Dr. King is standing facing the railing, it would have been entirely consistent with this kind of track from the right front. Now, if the firehouse is to my left, for example, it is possible to station Dr. King in a position to receive this same kind of trajectory if he were somewhat like that [indicating by making left turn].
That is all I can measure in the body; what happened once the missile hits the mandible and below, but it does fix certain parameters that have to be adhered to for such a track to come in, there are many ways it could come but there are many others it couldn't have come.
Mr. FITHIAN. Thank you, thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired, the gentleman from Pennsylvania, Mr. Edgar.
Mr. EDGAR. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have listened very carefully to your testimony and I wonder if we could back up just a moment and look at the two exhibits which deal with the bullet fragments, the one that is right below and the additional one here.
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. EDGAR. Doctor, could you describe what that bullet would look like in its pristine form and shape, and indicate what would be the makeup of the bullet, both soft and hard?
Dr. BADEN. I can give a rough answer to reasonable scientific certainty but the firearms panel which has done extensive evaluations can give and will give to you, I am sure, a much more detailed answer. Suffice it, with that caveat, this is the base of the bullet and this, again, was a photograph taken by Dr. Francisco and identified to us when we showed it to him, as the bullet that he removed from beneath the skin; this is the base and this is essentially copper jacketing.
This photograph is from below, a picture from the back side with the copper flared out. The inside of this bullet, the core of the bullet, which has become dislodged -- this is the core, the back of the core and is essentially lead, 99 percent or more lead. The bullet would have had a much longer and thinner profile and structure in the unfired state.
Now, this type of elongated, long bullet which would measure 0.30 inch in diameter at the base, would have had a copper jacketing most of the way along the side and base. The front portion of it was unclad, there was no copper around it, and had exposed lead, which is one way in which rifle bullets are made, for various purposes.
What we have here is less than half of the bullet, a little less than half of the bullet but it was the largest intact fragment and only fragment that would have been of value for ballistic tests which were subsequently done and which will be reported to you at a later time.
Mr. EDGAR. You had testified earlier that given the X-rays and the other evidence that you have of the fragments of lead throughout the body that this bullet is consistent with and pieces that we have are, consistent with a one bullet, whole bullet concept.
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir.
Mr. EDGAR. In your experience at looking at bodies that have been struck by bullets of this nature, is it normal for the bullet to be deformed and mutilated in this fashion?
Dr. BADEN. That is entirely dependent on what is struck by the bullet. If this bullet had not struck the mandible, the jawbone which even from Biblical times was known to be very firm and hard, certainly this much deformity would not have occurred. The ribs that were struck are thinner bones and cause less damage to the missile. The spine is very hard and also causes extensive damage. So that this type of deformity for a bullet going through the spine bones and the jawbone is entirely consistent with that kind of impact given the fact that this is a soft-nosed bullet. It is not copper-jacketed in front and the impacting surface is soft lead as opposed to a copper jacket which is much harder.
If this bullet had struck soft tissue, had gone through the lungs, for example, without striking the mandible or the spine it, might have deformed very little.
Mr. EDGAR. Thank you, I have one final question, and I am going to need the three exhibits of the jacket, the shirt and the tie.
Doctor, as you see the extensive damage to the tie and the shirt, and from the angle that it has been described it entered the cheek and then entered the lower part of the body, can you indicate how the jacket would have been in such a position to be struck?
Dr. BADEN. Yes; in appreciating the injuries to the clothing, one has to remember how we wear jackets. The jacket lapel margin is really largely below the collarbone and we can feel on ourselves the collarbone. The entrance in the skin is above the collarbone and would
be approximately where I am pointing with my finger, assuming reasonable wearing of -- the usual wearing of a tie and shirt and jacket.
This was further evidence to the panel, the nature of this irregular tear, as to the direction that the missile had to have gone through the face and jaw, exited and reentered right at the point of my finger, approximately. Now this reentry wound is larger than the bullet which had been flattened somewhat and there may have been multiple fragments coming through, and this caused the irregular tearing of the shirt, the severing of the tie beneath it but only brushed by the lapel of the jacket which is not in the path of the track, and which lapel extends to the side and below the collarbone; the collarbone as I said is intact and was not fractured.
Mr. EDGAR. Thank you, I have no further questions.
Chairman STOKES. The time of the gentleman has expired.
The gentleman from Connecticut, Mr. Dodd.
Mr. DODD. Doctor, I wonder if you might tell us whether or not you had an opportunity to speak with the attending physician at the time, that Dr. King was pronounced dead?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, we did speak in Memphis with Dr. Ted Galyon who was the attending physician who happened to be in the emergency room when Dr. King was brought in, and with Dr. Rufus Brown, who at the time was chief surgical resident at St. Joseph's Hospital and who were present and participated in all of the medical and surgical procedures done to Dr. King, in resuscitative attempts.
Mr. DODD. I realize this is a little bit afield from your expertise but I would like to ask you anyway, did you ask the attending physicians who were present and participated in all of the medical and surgical procedures in the emergency room whether or not he said anything at all during that period?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, we pathologists are also doctors and we did discuss exactly all the medical aspects of Dr. King's condition when he came in and they both assured us that although they could feel a faint pulse, and they could get a very weak electrocardiogram of the heart beating, that he was totally unmoving -- one way of describing it would be paralyzed -- that he did not talk at all, did not say anything certainly from 6:15 on, but that he was unconscious and that they felt that he was irretrievably injured and virtually dead even though his heart was still beating, and although they vigorously attempted to perform the appropriate resuscitation measures.
Mr. DODD. At the time he arrived?
Dr. BADEN. He did not talk, did not say anything but had a faint heartbeat which prompted them to do extensive resuscitation.
Mr. DODD. He was dead at the time or irretrievable at the time he arrived in the emergency room?
Dr. BADEN. Yes, sir, that was their very clear and explicit statements to us and also written in the notes at the time. But we did question them, Mr. Dodd, specifically as to the point that you raised.
Mr. DODD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. Dr. Baden, what was the official time of death as pronounced?
Dr. BADEN. Death was pronounced at, I believe 7:05 or 7:04 in the hospital records but that is a technical determination, as to cause of death. In this country, death occurs when somebody pronounces some
body dead and although he arrived at 6:15, and he did have a pulse, so he was not totally without any vital signs, in the course of their resuscitating him the pulse was lost rapidly; they kept applying resuscitation, and they finally determined at 7:04 or 7:05 that there was no use in continuing so they pronounced death at that time.
He could have been pronounced dead at 6:18 or 6:20, if they had so wished but it is clearly the judgment of our panel from what the doctors told us, from the autopsy report and from other independent evidence that the nature and extent of the injuries to Dr. King were such that in no way, shape, or form could he have at that time or could he presently, with all additional medical knowledge that we have, could he have been saved from dying.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you. Are there additional members of the committee who have questions?
Dr. Baden, under the rules of the committee, any witness appearing before the committee, at the close of his testimony and close of questioning has 5 minutes in which to either explain or expand upon or any way amplify his testimony before this committee. The Chair wishes to extend to you at this time 5 minutes in which you may do precisely that if you so desire.
Dr. BADEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I have no specific statement to make except perhaps that I and the medical panel have been extremely impressed with the cooperation of the various doctors and the various counsel people from the committee whom we have consulted with in obtaining whatever information and whatever materials that are available and in attempting to arrive at our medical conclusions as impartially and as independently as possible. I wish to thank on behalf of the other members of the panel, Mr. Webb and others who have worked very hard with us and especially Ms. Ida Dox who is in the audience and who worked very hard making sure that what was placed on these drawings were absolutely valid, supportable and in every minute detail expressed what was seen on the photographs and what injuries were present.
The only other thought perhaps is to refer to a charge that Mr. Blakey had given the panel a while back, that although there is great concern by the committee as to the nature of the homicide investigation into the death of Dr. King, that in fact in the United States there can be and must be improvement in all homicide investigations from the scientific and medical pathology point of view. It is unfortunate that in this country so little attention has been given to the contribution of the autopsy in homicide investigation. I think the members of the committee who have been prosecutors, and I think the judge, appreciates how important it is in the courtroom to identify the injuries to a decedent. I think sometimes this is lost track of in the great deficits of police and judiciary and lawyers in this country that in the homicide situation which has caused such great concern around the country that the initial identification that a homicide that occurred, the documentation of the findings occurred, and proper evaluation is important to the whole criminal justice system, and that indeed, Dr. Francisco, even though we may have some minor discrepancies as to concept of the autopsy, did document the findings, through photographs, did dictation, committed to writing his findings, that does permit other medical examiners to make an independent judgment as to
the findings and we are pleased that we have been able to reach firm conclusions on the basis of work done 10 years ago.
Chairman STOKES. Thank you, Dr. Baden. Any members of the committee have anything further of the witnesses? Does counsel, Mr. Webb, have anything further of Dr. Baden?
Mr. WEBB. No, sir, I do not.
Chairman STOKES. Dr. Baden, on behalf of the committee I wish to express to you and to the panel the appreciation of this committee for the outstanding work that you have done, and especially for the presentation that you have made here, this morning, you have been of great assistance to this committee in its works and we are indeed thankful to you for your cooperation in that respect.
Dr. BADEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman STOKES. If there is nothing further to come before the committee at this time, the Chair will recess the committee until 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
[Whereupon, at 11:10 a.m. the committee adjourned, to reconvene at 9 a.m., Wednesday, August 16, 1978.]
Next: Examination of the crime scene.