Dr Horn Final

Dr. Horn Testimony from Day 54, May 2, 2013, Part 6  Statements that seem especially significant marked in bold.

Martinez: The state calls Kevin Horn.


Martinez: Your name sir.

Horn: Kevin Daniel Horn.

Martinez: And you’re the individual that conducted the medical examination of Travis Alexander, correct?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: I`m going to show you exhibits number 653 and 654 and see if you recognize them.

Horn: Yes,

Martinez: What are they?

Horn: They are photographs of the base of Travis Alexander’s skull.

Martinez: And do they also indicate or show the entry wound of the bullet?

Horn: The entry and the exit, yes.

Martinez: I move for the admission of exhibit numbers 653 and 654.

Wilmott: No objection.

Judge Stephens: 653 and 654 are admitted.

Martinez: Sir, one of the things that you previously told us was that the trajectory of the wound did not have a lot of blood, do you remember testifying to that previously?

Horn: Of the head wound, yes.

Martinez: And with regard to this issue about blood and the trajectory of a bullet, what can… what can account for that ..what is it that is…what does that indicate to you?

Horn: It means a person may have already bled out from another injury or may have actually been deceased.

Martinez: And the reason that you can say that he may have been deceased is why?

Horn: Just the lack of hemorrhage within the wound and the lack of vital reaction to the injury.

Martinez: And if I remember right, you previously indicated that the heart stops pumping at the time of death, and so that may account for that also, correct?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: Let’s look at exhibit number 653. Can you tap that thing so we can get the arrow out of the way? thank you …….What is this right here?

Horn: That is the entry point of the projectile into the right anterior fossa, which is the front part of the skull.

Martinez: And what is the part of the brain that lays in this particular area?

Horn: The right frontal lobe.

Martinez: Take a look at exhibit number 654. We have two arrows that are pointing. Why was it significant enough to have those two arrows pointed?

Horn: It shows the entry point and the exit of the projectile from the skull, as it’s entering both portions of the skull.

Martinez: Back to exhibit number 653, this is what down here?

Horn: That is the centre of the base of the skull, umm, it’s actually overlying the nasal cavity.

Martinez: And the reason that we have arrows pointed here, was why?

Horn: Well normally, there is intact bone there.. there’s a plate there and it has been torn away by the bullet that has begun to tumble and deform. So that’s why we have a larger exit point and a smaller entry point.

Martinez: One of the things that you indicated was the brain had the consistency of tapioca I think was the way you …

Horn: Yes, pudding ..

Martinez: Yah, pudding. And if it had the consistency of this pudding, and the frontal lobe is here, is that .. what would have .. I know it would be the whole brain .. but in terms of the frontal lobe, would that also have the consistency of tapioca pudding?

Horn: Yes, the entire brain was decomposed.

Martinez: Is that one of the reasons that ..that.. did that hinder you in attempting to find out what a trajectory was?

Horn: Yes, in addition to lack of hemorrhage in the wound to begin with. If the hemorrhage had still been there, I might have been able to identify that, even in a decomposed brain, but there was really no hemorrhage and the brain was uniformly green-grey and soft.

Martinez: And if there is no hemorrhaging there, that’s what you previously indicated.. could indicate that he was already dead?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: And if the bullet goes in this direction, and the frontal lobe is there, is it your opinion, even though the brain was in that tapioca pudding kind of state, that you can at least give us an indication as to what the trajectory was, and I know you previously indicated something about simple geometry..

Horn: Yes, if you draw a line straight from the right front part of the head towards the left cheek, which is in this area here …

Martinez: Go ahead ..go ahead and draw the line if you can, I don’t know exactly how to work it …

Horn: The trajectory is this way and the cheek is in this location, so the bullet ends up here. So you can see that it enters the skull here, and why we have a larger fractured exit point is because the bullet has begun to tumble and deform, and you get a larger exit as the bullet is deformed by the bone.

Martinez: So it isn’t a situation where the bullet then goes down in this direction, but it actually keeps going this direction, is that ..?

Horn: Yes, it goes down below the skull into the face.

Martinez: And if it goes down in that direction, do you have an opinion as to what would have happened once that shot struck Mr. Alexander in the front portion of his face?

Horn:If it had been the last wound nothing, because he was already dead. If it’s the first wound and it’s passing through his frontal lobe, that bullet is tumbling and deforming and it’s causing a large temporary cavity which is involving areas of brain, even away from the frontal lobe, that this person would have collapsed.

Martinez: Is there something to a bullet involving, for example, concussive affect, in other words , it’s not just the item that is going through, but is there any sort of, for lack of a better term, radiation of energy that goes from there?

Horn: A bullet as it passes through something soft like brain, will create what is called a temporary cavity, and you see that in ballistic gelatin when you test fire a bullet through gelatin. You see it in the ballistic labs. It’s the same concept in the brain. You get a very large open area that squashes the brain around it into the skull around it, and then that will collapse back down … and you may be able to see a wound track, but in this case, we don’t. But it damages areas of the brain away from the frontal lobe, even only passing through that one part of the brain, other areas of the brain are involved and damaged.

Martinez: So if it was the first shot, what is your opinion as to whether or not Mr. Alexander would have been incapacitated?

Horn: He would have been incapacitated.

Martinez: And would this have been an immediate sort of reaction, seconds?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: By seconds, how many seconds would you indicate?

Horn: A second or two. He would collapse to the ground and be unresponsive.

Martinez: I don’t have any other questions. Thank you.

Cross Examination

Wilmott: Dr. Horn, how long does blood stay in a person’s brain after they have died?

Horn: If there is injury there, there should be blood visible.

Wilmott: Well, if there is no injury to the brain, how long is it going to take for …somebody… for that … if somebody’s bleeding out… how long is it going to take for that blood to leave the brain?

Horn: I’m not sure I understand your question.

Wilmott: Well, you talked about the fact that there was no hemorrhage that you could see when you were looking through these … when you were doing the autopsy, right?

Horn: Right, looking at the decomposed brain, yes.

Wilmott: So, and when you talked about how you felt there was no hemorrhaging, one of the reasons that you are giving us for that, is the fact that maybe there was no blood left, right?

Horn: That he bled out from other injuries, yes.

Wilmott: Okay, so how long does it take to get to that point?

Horn: Ah, given the other injuries that Mr. Alexander had, all his blood basically had left his body from his injuries to his throat and other areas of his body so I am not surprised that there is really no hemorrhage left in this track.

Wilmott: My question is how long is it going to take?

Horn: With his injuries … seconds.

Wilmott: So in seconds, you would expect that there is absolutely no blood left in the brain?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: Okay. And ah, also with regards to … we’ve talked about with this brain and it’s consistency of tapioca, right?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: Yes, and regardless of the consistency of tapioca, you were able to actually take slices of it, weren’t you?

Horn: Not slices. We put the brain in a pan to weigh it, and really this is like a liquid, almost a very soft pudding like brain and we do section through it in the pan otherwise it will run off our table when we are trying to examine it. So you are able to cut it with a knife and section it and that’s what I meant when I said I`m sectioning a decomposing brain.

Wilmott: So now you`re telling me that it’s completely liquefied?

Horn: I didn’t say that. I said it was the consistency of pudding. It’s very soft.

Wilmott: Well, if you didn’t have it in this pan it was going to run off the pan, like liquid, right?

Horn: It’s like a sludge, yes. It’s a pudding.

Wilmott: Okay, so you don’t talk about this pudding or this sludge in your report do you?

Horn: Yes, I do.

Wilmott: When you talk about the autolysed brain?

Horn: I call it autolysed, that’s what that means.

Wilmott: And autolysed has different degrees, doesn’t it?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: Okay. So just because you are talking about an autolysed brain, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is going to be liquefied, right?

Horn: I didn’t call it liquefied.

Wilmott: Okay, but it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be liquefied does it?

Horn: When it’s autolysed, it’s very soft and very fragile, and pudding-like is most of the time, what I see in an autolysed brain.

Wilmott: That wasn’t my question. My question was when we’re dealing with an autolysed brain, there are different degrees, so if you term it as you did in your report, autolysed brain, that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be liquefied, right, necessarily?

Horn: I didn`t call it liquefied.

Wilmott: I`m asking you, in an autolysed brain, talking about autolysed brains, are there different degrees of having an autolysed brain?

Horn: Yes, I answered that. There are.

Wilmott: Okay. So then answer me this. If there are different degrees, just because you have an autolysed brain and you are looking at an autolysed brain, does it necessarily mean that that autolysed brain is going to be liquefied?

Horn: No.

Wilmott: Okay, so because there are varying degrees, correct?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And in this case, the degree you talk about medium decomposition, don’t you?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And so you are not talking about completely decomposed?

Horn: Well, medium decomposition is pretty .. pretty far along.

Wilmott: Well, when we are talking about medium, isn’t there a little, medium and a lot?

Horn: Right. If the end would be a skeleton, so medium is pretty much a liquefied , bloated body which is what …

Wilmott: So we’re back to liquefied again?

Horn: Yes, the body is liquefying. The stages of liquefying ..

Wilmott: And did you not just tell us that the brain was not liquefied?

Horn: It’s a pudding. So it’s a form of liquid. It’s not like water. It’s like a … it’s an oozing liquid. It’s like

Wilmott: Okay..

Horn: It’s ..

Wilmott: Go ahead.

Horn: It’s like a pudding.

Wilmott: Like pudding. Okay. So, when you were able to take this brain and put it into a pan, you talk about doing these sections, right?

Horn: Cutting it with a knife..

Wilmott: Yes, and so, in cutting it with a knife, you were able to actually look at the slices, right… weren’t you able to?

Horn: That’s what I usually do..

Wilmott: Okay. And so, it wasn’t so pudding-like that you couldn’t see the difference as you’re putting the knife in, see the slices, right?

Horn: They aren’t slices as the best use of that term. I’m able to cut through what is there, pull it apart, and look through it to see if I am missing bullet fragments or hemorrhage, scarring or other things. So what I am saying, is based on the limitations of the exam that I have, I didn’t see any of those things.

Wilmott: So perfect. What you just said, I think helps explain what we’re trying to talk about here. You are able to put a knife through it and pull it apart, right?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And when you can pull it apart, you are able to then take a look at what you are pulling apart, right?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And you do that for several sections, right?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: Okay. And so in these several sections, you weren’t able to see any foreign bodies, right?

Horn: That’s right.

Wilmott: There was no evidence of that.

Horn: Right.

Wilmott: So when you talk about this bullet tumbling and deforming, it certainly wasn’t exploding, right?

Horn: Not exploding, no.

Wilmott: And not breaking apart.

Horn: Not fragmented.

Wilmott: And there were no fragments in the rest of the brain, right?

Horn: Not that I found.

Wilmott: So just this one track, or this, well… you couldn’t see a track, right?

Horn: I could not see a track through the brain, that’s correct.

Wilmott: Even though you were able to slice it and pull the slices apart, you were not able to see a track, is that what you are telling us?

Horn: That’s right. Yes.

Wilmott: And you were able to see enough that you couldn’t see any apparent trauma, right?

Horn: I couldn’t see any hemorrhage or a wound track in the brain, yes that’s true.

Wilmott: And you talked about this shock theory, right, that when a bullet goes into a brain that there is a shock to the rest of the brain

Horn: I call it a temporary cavity, yes.

Wilmott: Okay, and so does that mean, in your opinion, any time someone is hit by a projectile in their frontal lobe, they will automatically be incapacitated due to this shock wave?

Horn: I’m talking about my experience with similar cases, yes.

Wilmott: So just in your experience?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: Okay. So you are not familiar with any research then?

Horn: Not explicitly today, no.

Wilmott: Okay, so you’re not familiar with research that talks about specifically people getting hit with projectiles in their frontal lobe and not being incapacitated. Are you aware of that?

Horn: No.

Wilmott: So you don’t do that extra research as a part of your job?

Horn: No.

Wilmott: And you don’t keep up with the current research that tells us about projectiles and brains?

Horn: I have read articles, but no, I can’t quote any articles to you today.

Wilmott: Okay. And so, based on what you’re telling us, is that every time the right frontal lobe has a projectile go through it, regardless of the calibre, it’s going to immediately incapacitate?

Horn: That’s been my experience with these cases, yes.

Wilmott: And that’s been your experience, but not looking outside your experience, right?

Horn: Well, my colleagues cases as well, similar cases that we’ve investigated.

Wilmott: And not any research?

Horn: Not any independent research, no.

Wilmott: Okay, Alright, I’m showing you what’s been in as 654. This is that arrows right? You’re talking about entry and exit

Horn: Yes

Wilmott: And so basically, and when we talk about entry and exit what we are also talking about is the fact that it’s also going down…down, is that correct?

Horn: Yes, it goes down into the face.

Wilmott: Okay, and, actually would it be better if we do it that way cause it’s down and to the left, right?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: Okay, so it goes in at this front corner and then it’s out … and when we see this hole over here .. what we’re really talking about is down into the nasal cavity, right?

Horn: Yes, and down into the cheek.

Wilmott: Okay, so when you drew that line for us … about the trajectory of the bullet… the bullet actually just went in, according to you, just went in very briefly, and then out the nasal cavity into the left cheek, right?

Horn: Very briefly, sure. It takes no time at all.

Wilmott: Well, very briefly into the brain, just a little part of it then, right?

Horn: Yes, through the frontal lobe.

Wilmott: Okay, the right frontal lobe?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And with regard to your report, everything else is correct, isn’t it?

Horn: I believe so.

Wilmott: Alright, nothing further.


Martinez: Even though you couldn’t see….given the consistency of the brain, even though you couldn’t see a track, in terms of this particular wound, exhibit number 653, is this the entrance wound?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: And the bullet was travelling in this direction?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: And if it’s travelling in this direction, what would it hit?

Horn: It’s going to injure the right frontal lobe.

Martinez: And what is this right here? Is this the cranium? Is that what they call it?

Horn: That is the right frontal bone, yes, cranium.

Martinez: And then the bullet travelled in this direction and it came out of the cavity, correct?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: I don’t have anything else, thank you.

Juror Questions

Anchor100% deceased

Judge Stephens: I think we have one juror question. Are there any others? Please approach.

Judge Stephens: The jury has a question for you.

“Would you agree that one hundred percent of the people you have seen with frontal lobe trauma are deceased at the time of your examination?”

Horn: I hope so.

Stephens: Alright, any more questions from the jury? Follow up Mr. Martinez.

Martinez: Even though one hundred percent of the people you see who have this particular injury are deceased, getting back to this particular case, does that change your opinion about the bullet, its trajectory, blood that was not there does it change any of your opinions?

Horn: No.

Martinez: Does it change your opinion as to whether or not this gunshot wound when it occurred, immediately incapacitated Mr. Alexander?

Wilmott: Objection. Beyond the scope.

Stephens: Overruled.

Martinez: Does it change that opinion?

Horn: If he was alive at the time.

Martinez: If he was alive? If he was alive he would be incapacitated immediately, correct?

Horn: Yes.

Martinez: And if he were dead, that would account for the lack of blood, right?

Horn: It could.

Wilmott: Thank you, and your opinions are based on your own experience, right?

Horn: My training and experience, yes.

Wilmott: And it has nothing to do with the research that has been done with regard to projectiles of the brain, right?

Horn: I have to rely on the cases I’ve seen, yes.

AnchorDura Mater Typo

Judge Stephens: Any more questions from the jury? Alright, one more question from the jury. Counsel please approach. We have one additional question.

“Your report stated there was no damage to the dura mater membrane. Can you explain how the brain can be damaged without damaging the membrane?”

Horn: I, ah, let me review my report… it’s the usual protocol with the report so clearly the dura mater had to have been perforated so that would be a typographical error in my report.

Judge Stephens: Alright, any other questions from the jury? Follow up Mr. Martinez.

Martinez: With regards to that issue of the perforation of that particular part of the anatomy, so as you look at it and your recollection, based on what you saw, was there that perforation?

Horn: Yes, there would have to have been.

Martinez: I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you.

Horn: There would have to have been, yes.

Martinez: When you say, there would have to have been, why is that?

Horn: Because of the location of the tracks, and the fact that the dura sits right on where that bone would have been fractured and blown apart so it would have had to perforate the dura in that location.

Martinez: No other questions.

Stephens: Ms. Wilmott.

Wilmott: Dr. Horn, you’re aware, this is a capital case, right?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: You know how serious it is.

Martinez: Objection, relevance.

Stephens: Sustained.

Wilmott: You understand that this is a serious case.

Martinez: Objection, relevance.

Stephens: Sustained.

Wilmott: You would have reviewed your report prior to coming to testify, right?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And you would have reviewed your report probably long before that also, right?

Horn: Yes, before testimony.

Wilmott: And you were interviewed in this case by defence counsel , weren’t you?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And wouldn’t you have reviewed your report prior to being interviewed by defence counsel?

Horn: Usually, yes.

Wilmott: And all those times that you were reviewing your reports, you never found any error with regard to the dura mater did you?

Horn: I did not note that until just now.

Wilmott: Okay, and so, in fact, did I not just ask you five minutes ago if the rest of your report was correct?

Horn: To the best of my knowledge, it was, yes.

Wilmott: And you answered, yes. But In fact, now you’re telling us to … in order to fit what the idea that this bullet had to have passed through the brain, you’re telling us that your report is incorrect now? Is that right?

Horn: There is a typographical error. Yes that’s exactly what it is.

Wilmott: You made a mistake didn’t you?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: Is that what you’re telling us?

Horn: Yes.

Wilmott: And you’re sure that the mistake isn’t the fact that the bullet just didn’t go through the brain?

Horn: It had to have injured the brain, yes.

Wilmott: So you’re just wrong in your report, and it’s incorrect?

Horn: It’s a typographical error. Yes.

Wilmott: Nothing further.

Judge Stephens: Alright, any other questions. Thank you Dr. Horn. You may step down.