Some questions answered

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Offline iamhere4mj

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Some questions answered

  • on: September 23, 2014, 01:40:59 PM
Here are some answers to some questions that have been asked over the past 5 years. I thought I would share this information in case some people were still wondering about some things.

The person answering is a Maryland police officer who now writes crime novels. The questions were asked by members of a hoax forum that no longer exists. Questions are in red, answers are in black.

1 - When in the courtroom, the person reading the verdict says the "alleged" victim (MJ) and the "alleged" Date. Does that really happen and why? That is a formality based on law and practicing law. It does happen in most courtrooms, but the verbiage varies from State to State. Because the Constitution presumes that you are innocent until proven guilty, some states have adopted this verbiage to reflect this legal requirement. How can it be alleged if he's been found guilty? Once again, this is just a legal formality. And, the person hasn't been found guilty until the entire verdict is read and accepted in the court. I've not seen or heard of situations in Maryland courts where we refer to the victim as an "alleged victim." I personally think this verbiage goes overboard on the formalities of the court. Yet, as is most often the case with courts, a case precedence (a case ruled on in the past that changes law or procedure) may have been set to require that the word "alleged" be added to the formal verbiage.

2 - Is it standard procedure to have a person's DNA taken during an autopsy? In MD, the medical examiner takes a series of test tubes of blood samples, mainly for the purpose of conducting a toxicology report. I've only asked for an extra test tube sample for DNA purposes when I've had a murder where (1) the killer was unknown, and (2) I have a scene where I believe I may need it for future testing--say in an instances where the victim was brutally assaulted and blood spatter may have transferred onto the suspect's clothing. However, if the victim's DNA wasn't taken by the PD, there is usually a sufficient sample on file at the ME's office that a sample can be forwarded to the PD if one is needed.

3 - Is it normal to be collecting evidence AFTER so many people had access to the Carolwood home? Yes, it is normal for investigators to take evidence whenever possible. If they hadn't taken the evidence when they did, people would be complaining about the 'police not doing their job,' so we make it a standard to collect evidence whenever we can get our hands on it. The question is whether or not it will be considered evidence in court of law as it is tested against the laws of the poisonous tree (that is when a police officer violates the 4th amendment and obtains evidence illegally--i.e. no search warrant). Then there is the other legal tests of evidence and whether it can be shown in court, which I am not as fluent with because I am not an attorney. So many bags of meds could be taken in as evidence and never questioned AFTER so many people had access (could have been planted) making it too easy to put the blame on Michael. The key here, as an investigator, is to establish whether or not MJ had, or was already taking these meds. This can be ascertained through interviews with friends, family, co-workers, etc. as well as checking for any documented Rx history.

4 - If Michael's "death" was a homicide, why was his home not sealed off as a crime scene and guarded until the investigation was complete? He was a HIGH PROFILE CELEBRITY, anyone with a brain would have sealed off his home the second that ambulance pulled out. These types of deaths don't present themselves as being criminal in nature. I remember as a young boy watching the news coverage surrounding the death of Elvis--his home wasn't sealed off either. At the time of the call the medics and PD only knew that MJ was in cardiac arrest and there was nothing at the scene to present any criminal conduct, so crime scene tape and sealing off the house wouldn't be required. Technically by law, I need to show and articulate facts in order to seize someone's property and conduct a search or I am violating the 4th amendment. It wasn't until the toxicology report came back that the PD had enough information to articulate a need to conduct a search--a search for meds.

5 - Why is it not mandatory for Murray to stand for his sentencing? I thought when the judge is issuing a sentence to anyone, that person is required to stand, out of respect for the court and the judge. In most courts this is the formality. It is in MD. Evidently that is not the case in CA. Personally, I favor the old Colonial courts where the "accused" was required to stand in an circular platform the entire time court was in session.

6 - When a body is flown on a police helicopter (like his was from UCLA to the coroner's office) can more than 1 body be on the same helicopter? This depends on what kind of helicopter it is and the weight capacity it is able to carry. Isn't it also procedure to have the bodies in body bags when transporting? Body bags are a protective health measure for the people handling the body and those coming close proximity--you never know if someone is HIV+ or have other issues that can create an "exposure." We have the pic showing two bodies on that helicopter, both in what appear to be white sheets/linens not zipped up body bags. Could the white sheets been placed over the body bag in an effort to better conceal the body so that viewers couldn't determine which body was MJ?

7 - Is there any reason why there would be no flight plan on record of the helicopter taking a body from the hospital to the coroners office? If this was a police helicopter, I believe that they are exempt from having to record flight plans because of their nature of working in emergencies.

8 - Is it true that one can fake their death if that person has been threatened - or a family member threatened? Are there any reasons that are acceptable for faking ones death without getting into trouble? Not that I am aware. The only way that someone could legally "disappear" is through the federal governments witness protection plan. And that requires you being a witness in a federal case where your life is at stake.
9 - How many levels/departments are there that deal with the witness protection program? I am not extremely knowledgeable with this program. Is there more than one type of the witness protection program? Not that I know of. Do all people who are in a witness protection program have to be given a new identity and can they ever contact family members again? Yes to both aspects. Once they make contact with a family member, the protection ends.

10 - What law enforcement agencies have a badge that is a star with 6 points (they were in court room in suits, not in uniform, and the star is on the lapel.) Typically, throughout the US, police departments patrol the streets and sheriffs offices take care of courtroom security. I would imagine given the intense media coverage and the celebrity status of MJ, both uniformed, non-uniformed, and undercover deputies were used for the security detail to help protect against any attacks against Dr. Conrad Murray.

11 - Is it legal for a doctor to give a false medical license # to paramedics when he is on the scene of an emergency? It is if CA has a law specifically such, or another law where such action would be considered illegal.

12 - When there has been a search warrant issued for a decedents residence and in that report there is a section labeled 'connecting reports' with a number indicated, what does that mean? Typically in MD, we do not do this. But I have heard in some states that they 'connect reports' (such as an autopsy report) to the applications and affidavit in support of seeking a search warrant simply because we as police officer's aren't doctor's and trying to accurately recreate such technical information can prove to be problematic if we represent it wrong. So by attaching a report the information is conveyed to the judge in a more accurate way. Does that indicate a prior case is somehow linked to the search of the decedents residence? Not necessarily. I would think in this case, with MJ being first transported to a hospital, pronounced dead, and then off to the morgue for the autopsy, the connecting reports may be those medical reports generated from his being taken to the hospital and then his autopsy. When MJ arrived at the hospital, they may have pulled a blood sample and sent it stat for an analysis to work through the emergency. This would show toxicology levels at the time of his arrival. A second blood drawl at the morgue should have confirmed the levels. What would some of the reasons be that a prior case was linked to the new case? Without being able to confirm any prior cases that were linked to this one, I really don't have an answer for this question.

13 - If a death has been ruled an accident vs. natural death is there always a death investigation assigned? What exactly does a death investigation cover? It's the death investigation that helps a ME rule on the cause and manner of death. Some are more straight forward than others, but the standard is that the doctor will not issue a formal ruling until they have all the information pertaining to the cause and manner of death. Let's say two construction workers are standing next to a truck containing steel piping. A support pole breaks and the steel pipes come tumbling down onto the two workers and crush them to death. Their deaths would be ruled an accident, right? But the ME won't release the official finding for weeks until he/she has reviewed their tox reports. The gathering of the information from the multiple sources (police, EMS, hospital, etc) is all part of the process of the death investigation. So, the facts dictate what a death investigation covers.

14 - If an accidental death has been ruled why would the robbery/homicide division become involved? And when would that division become involved? Just because a death has been ruled accidental doesn't preclude that a criminal act hasn't occurred. In MJ's case, detectives would have been assigned when it was learned and verified that Murray's neglect lead to MJ's death; criminal elements for a manslaughter case.

15 - If there has been medical evidence taken from the scene of the crime is that evidence always sealed? What would the reason(s) be if that evidence wasn't sealed? It depends on the type of evidence collect as to how it's packaged. For example, any item potentially containing DNA evidence should never be sealed in a plastic bag; it destroys the DNA evidence. For this reason we use paper bags; a breathable container that doesn't alter the DNA. Then there is some evidence that needs to be processed before being sealed, such as wet clothes (either from the elements or blood). Such items are dried before being packaged, sealed and stored. But once the evidence has been collected, we always seal it in its packaging. The chief goal is to preserve the value of the evidence while maintaining the required chain of custody.

16 - In what circumstances do the police respond to a 911 call? Is it possible that the police would respond to a call where a gentleman is not breathing or would only an ambulance show up in a case like this? In almost all jurisdictions, such an emergency would have both police and EMT dispatched to the call. Most officers have some level of first responder (medical emergency) training. And because they are out on patrol, they are the most likely to arrive first on the scene, minutes before any EMT. Then they can initiate any first aid while the medics are still en route.

17 - Why would a decedent be identified using their drivers license when the next of kin could do the identification? We typically use a driver's license to identify a descendant to keep from having to put a family member through that process. It's a traumatic process to see a loved one laying on the slab at the morgue. It's quite different than seeing them in the casket at a funeral service. If the family was notified because of the identification through the drivers license of the decedent wouldn't it go on the record as the family actually doing the identification instead of saying the decedent was identified using their drivers license? This would depend upon the reporting process of the agency--and they vary from agency to agency.

18 - Do you happen to know a Maryland deputy sheriff named Jason Malachi? Sorry, but I do not.

Love you Michael!