Volume 35, Issue 4 (July 1990)
A Review of Unnatural Death—Confessions of a Medical Examiner
Unnatural Death is a mini-primer on forensic pathology for the general public. All kinds of death and medicolegal investigation are presented, chiefly from Dr. Baden's personal experience and consultative work, which includes the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr.. and John Belushi; the trials of Claus Von Bulow and Dr. Carl Coppolino; and the Attica, New York, prison riot of 1971. Appropriate emphasis is placed on the terminal circumstances, the scene, the toxicology, and the autopsy so that the reader will appreciate that the medical examiner does not work in a vacuum and that the autopsy findings are often consistent with the various manners of death. A drug-dump death looking like a homicide, an alcohol overdose simulating a strangulation, and certified crib deaths that are actually murders give the reader a true sense of the problems associated with such investigations. Dr. Baden also criticizes forensic and medical experts for inappropriate conclusions based upon incomplete consideration of the preponderance of the evidence as well as for basic misinterpretations of the facts.