Kathleen Eckelt continues her pathbreaking work on the case, with a summary post at Forensic Talk. The post, which focuses on the medical shortcomings and peculiarities in the state’s evidence, complements mine on the legal and academic side of the case.
Eckelt’s ten “strikes” against the medical evidence possessed by the state divide into five broad categories: (1) new—and critical—material; (2) alcohol- and drug-related issues; (3) law enforcement procedures; and (4) logical inconsistencies in the accuser’s stories in light of the medical evidence that exists.
1.) New Material
Eckelt raises serious concerns about the relationship between the medical evidence and two central elements of what appears to be the state’s case (which, admittedly, always seems to be changing as new facts emerge to contradict then-existing theories): the accuser’s claim that she was strangled; and her assertion that she broke off four of her false fingernails fighting off her attackers.
Eckelt writes that “the strangulation bit alone made me question her story.” Why?
The combination of alcohol/drugs and the compression which would have been caused by the type of choke hold that was demonstrated to the media, I believe she would have passed out immediately . . . Of course, show me some signs, show me where she was so hoarse afterwards she could hardly talk and I might feel differently. But, let me see ... Wasn’t Kim just saying on 60 Minutes that there was nothing wrong with the accuser afterwards
Eckelt also reasons that the fingernail evidence is inconsistent with the story told by the accuser. She wonders how, to begin with, the accuser managed to break the fingernails at all, when “according to all witnesses and the photos, she wasn’t in any condition to fight off a kitten, much less three strong, young athletes.”
And if, in fact, the accuser had sought to fight off her attackers with her fingernails, there “should have been blood under her nails. There should have been deep, crescent shaped or long scratches on the perpetrator.”
2.) Alcohol- and Drug-Related Issues
More so than any commentator, Eckelt has been ahead of the curve in analyzing how the combination of flexeril and alcohol might have accounted for the accuser’s odd behavior on the night of the party.
Eckelt also wonders why the accuser, diagnosed as suffering from chronic back pain, was still taking flexeril, which is supposed to be confined to the acute phase (3-6 months), after which “there is usually no need for muscle relaxants.”
The accuser’s continuing access to flexeril caused Eckelt to ask some uncomfortable questions, answers for which don’t seem to help Nifong’s case:
- Why was this woman, with a chronic back pain problem, getting Flexeril at this point?
- Did she recently have an accident or a DV incident?
- Was the fact that she was knowingly mixing it with alcohol, to the point of impairment, an indicator of past drug/alcohol abuse behavior?
Eckelt has experience diagnosing health care fraud, and comments that “one of the red flags in claimant fraud is the over exaggeration of symptoms. However, those exaggerated symptoms seem to disappear when the person doesn’t know that they’re being observed - or video taped.” In this instance, we have the surreptitious videotape of the accuser dancing, in a limber fashion, at the same time she was claiming in hospital visits that she could barely walk.
3.) Law Enforcement Procedures
Eckelt has been masterful in dissecting the seemingly false medical judgments contained in the Gottlieb report. She continues her efforts in this post, observing that Gottlieb claimed to have asked the SANE nurse if the accuser’s injuries were “consistent with sexual assault”; she replied, “Yes.”
According to Eckelt,
We don’t talk like that. In fact, I’ve never had a detective ask me if a patient’s injuries were consistent with sexual assault. They just ask if she had any injuries and I tell them yes or no and what type. But then again, maybe they do things differently in
. North Carolina
Eckelt also casts doubt on the performance of the
Eckelt also notes a variety of logical inconsistencies in the medical side of the state’s case such as the lack of DNA or other transfer of evidence, or the lack of corroboration for the accuser’s “injuries” of any type from Kim Roberts.
Where does Eckelt’s analysis leave the case? Not only did Nifong bring a case based on procedural fraud in the legal arena; but the medical report that he claimed persuaded him a rape occurred actually is dramatically inconsistent with the accuser’s stories.
Eckelt’s work raises the disturbing question of whether Nifong constructed out of whole cloth the medical case as he did with the procedural handling of affairs. But of course, to quote Eckelt, “Then again, maybe they do things differently in