PREMIUM LEGAL RESOURCES
ASK A LAWYER
AUTOPSY REPORT 94-05136
I performed an autopsy on the body of BROWN-SIMPSON, NICOLE at the
DEPARTMENT OF CORONER Los Angeles, California on June 14, 1994 @0730 HOURS
From the anatomic findings and pertinent history, I ascribe the death to:
MULTIPLE SHARP FORCE INJURIES Due To Or As a Consequence of
I. Incised wound of neck:
A. Transection of left and right common carotid arteries.
B. Incisions, left and right internal jugular veins
C. Transection of thyrohyoid membrane, epiglottis, and hypopharynx.
D. Incision into cervical spine, C3.
II. Multiple stab wound of neck and scalp (total of seven).
III. Multiple injuries of hands, including incised wound, ring finger of
right hand (defense wound).
IV. Scalp bruise, right parietal.
NOTES AND PROCEDURES
1. The body is described in the Standard Anatomical Position. Reference
is to this position only.
2. Where necessary, injuries are numbered for reference. This is
arbitrary and does not correspond to any order in which they may have been
incurred. All the injuries are antemortem, unless otherwise specified.
3. The term "anatomic" is used as a specification to indicate
correspondence with the description as set forth in the textbooks of Gross
Anatomy. It denotes freedom from significant, visible or morbid alteration.
The body is that of a well-developed, well-nourished Caucasian female
stated to be 35 years old. The body weighs 129 pounds and measures 65
inches from crown to sole. The hair on the scalp is brown. The irides are
brown with the pupils fixed and dilated. The sclerae and conjunctive are
unremarkable, without evidence of petechial hemorrhages on either. Both
upper and lower teeth are natural, without evidence of injury to the
cheeks, lips or gums.
There are no tattoos, deformities or amputations. Two linear surgical
scars are found beneath each breast, transversely oriented and measuring 2
inches in length.
Rigor mortis is fixed at the time of autopsy examination (please see form
The body appears to the examiner as stated above. Identification is by
toe-tag and the autopsy is not material to identification. The body is not
The head is normocephalic and there is external evidence of antemortem
injury to be described below. Otherwise, the external auditory canals,
eyes, nose and mouth are not remarkable. The neck shows sharp force injury
to be described below, and the larynx is visible through the gaping wound.
No recent traumatic injuries are noted on the chest or abdomen; tan lines
are seen on the lower abdomen (bathing suit). The genitalia are that of
adult female with no gross evidence of injuries. Examination of the
posterior surface at the trunk shows some excoriations compatible with
postmortem injuries on the upper back, right side, on the medial aspect of
the right scapula and on the lateral aspect of the right scapula
(compatible with ant to insect bites). An abrasion above the left scapula
measures 3/4 x 1/2 inch and is red-brown in color and appears antemortem.
Otherwise, the lower back and remainder of the posterior aspect of the
body shows no evidence or recent injuries.
Refer to available photographs and diagrams and the specific
documentation of the autopsy protocol.
The decedent was wearing a short black dress, blood stained. Also, she
was wearing a pair of black panties To the unaided eye examination there
was no evidence of cut or tear.
EVIDENCE OF INJURY:
DESCRIPTION OF INCISED WOUND OF NECK:
The incised wound of the neck is gaping and exposes the larynx and
cervical vertebral column. It measures 5 1/2 x 2 1/2 inches in length and
is found at the level of the superior border of the larynx.
After approximation of the edges, it is seen to be diagonally oriented on
the right side and transversely oriented from the midline to the left
side. On the right side it is upwardly angulated toward the right earlobe
and extends for 4 inches from the midline. On the left side it is
transversely oriented and extends 2 1/2 inches to the anterior border of
the left sternocleidomastoid muscle. The edges of the wound are smooth,
with subcutaneous and intramuscular hemorrhage, fresh, dark red purple, is
On the right side the upwardly angulated wound passes through the skin,
the subcutaneous tissue, the platysma, passing under the ramus of the
right mandible and upward as it passes through the strap muscles on the
right, towards the digastric muscle on the right, and through the
thyrohyoid membrane and ligament. Further dissection discloses that it
passes posteriorly and transects the distal one-third of the epiglottis,
the hypo-pharynx, and passes into the body of the 3rd cervical vertebra
where it transversely oriented 3/4 inch incised wound is seen in the bone,
extending it for a depth of 1/4 inch into the bone. The spinal canal and
cord are not entered.
On the right side superiorly the wound passes towards the insertion of
the sternocleidomastoid muscle, and then becomes more superficial and
tapers as it terminates in the skin below the right earlobe.
On the left side the wound is transversely oriented and extends for 2 1/2
inches where the wound path intersects the stab wounds on the left side of
the neck to be described below.
Dissection discloses that the right common carotid artery is transected
with hemorrhage in the surrounding carotid sheath and there is a 1/4
incised wound or nick in the right internal jugular vein with surrounding
soft tissue hemorrhage.
On the left side the left common carotid artery is transected with
hemorrhage in the surrounding carotid sheath and the left internal jugular
vein is subtotally transected with only a thin strand of tissue remaining
posteriorly with surrounding soft tissue hemorrhage. The injuries on the
left side of the neck intersect and the pathways of the stab wounds on the
left side to be described below.
There is fresh hemorrhage and bruising noted along the entire incised
Depth of penetration is not given because the neck can be either flexed
or extended, and the length of the wound is greater than the depth.
Opinion: This is a fatal incised wound or sharp force injury, associated
with transection of the left and right carotid arteries and incisions of
the left and right internal jugular veins with exsanguinating hemorrhage.
DESCRIPTION OF MULTIPLE STAB WOUNDS
There are four stab wounds on the left side of the neck over the left
sternocledomastoid muscle; they extend to 3 inches below the external
1. This stab wound overlaps that of the incised wound of the neck
described above. The wound measures 5/8 inch in length, is vertically
oriented, and has a squared-off end inferiorly approximately 1/32 inch and
a pointed end superiorly. The minimal depth of the penetration, from left
to right, is 1 1/2 to 2 inches where it intersects the incised wound.
Penetration is through the skin, subcutaneous tissue and muscle, and
injury to the internal jugular vein or common carotid artery cannot be
2. Stab wound of left side of neck: This is a 1/8 inch superficial slit-
like incision into the skin and dermis; no squared-off or dull end is
This is a superficial slit-like wound of the skin, non-fatal.
3. Stab wound on left side of neck: This is a diagonally oriented stab
wound measuring 1/2 inch in length; there is a pointed end on the
posterior aspect and a squared-off end anterior less than 1/32 inch in
length. The edges are smooth, and dissection disposes a depth of
penetration for 1 1/2 to 2 inches where the stab wound intersects that of
the incised wound of the neck; the stab wounds are approximately 1 inch
from the left lateral termination of the incised wound. Fresh hemorrhage
is noted along the wound path which goes through the skin, subcutaneous
tissue and muscle.
Opinion: This stab wound cannot be distinguished from injuries caused by
the incised wound of the neck and may have injured the left common carotid
artery and/or the left internal jugular vein.
4. Stab wound of the left side of neck: This is a diagonally oriented
stab wound measuring 7/8 inch in length; on the posterior aspect there is
a pointed end and on the anterior aspect a squared -off or dull end
approximately 1/32 inch in width; otherwise the edges are smooth.
Subsequent dissection discloses the wound path through the skin,
subcutaneous tissue and muscle where it intersects the incised wound of
the neck. Depth of penetration is 1 - 1/2 inches.
Opinion: This stab wound may have injured the left common carotid artery
and/or the left internal jugular vein as described above.
5. Stab wound of scalp, left parietal: This diagonally oriented stab
wound is located on the left parietal scalp, which is shaved postmortem
for visualization. It measures 1/2 inch in length and no definite squared-
off or dull end is evident, both ends appearing to be rounded. Depth of
penetration is through the scalp, to the galea, approximately 3/8 - 1/2
inch. There is deep scalp hemorrhage and a subgaleal bruise, measuring 1
1/2 x 1 1/2 inches; there is no cutting wound or injury to the skull and
there is no penetration into the cranium.
Opinion: This is a superficial stab wound or cutting wound of the scalp,
6. Stab wound or cutting wound of scalp: This is transversely oriented
and is found in the right posterior parietal-occipital region. The
transversely oriented wound measures 1 1/2 inches in length and has a
pointed end to the left and a fork or split into the right. Depth of
penetration is 3/8 - 1 1/2 inches with fresh deep scalp bruising.
Opinion: This is a non-fatal, stabbing or cutting wound of the scalp.
7. Stab wound or cutting wound of the scalp, right parietal-occipital:
This is vertically oriented, measures 3/16 inch in length and involves the
skin only. No squared-off or dull end is evident, both ends or aspects
being pointed or tapered.
There is a small amount of deep scalp hemorrhage or bruising, no
Opinion: This is a non-fatal superficial stabbing or cutting wound of the
8. Blunt force injury to head: On the right side of the scalp, 4 inches
above the right external auditory canal there is a scalp bruise; this is
revealed after postmortem shaving of the scalp. It measures 1 x 1 inches
and is red-violet or purple in color. The skin is smooth, non-abraded or
lacerated. Subsequent autopsy discloses fresh deep scalp hemorrhage and
fresh dark red-purple subgaleal hemorrhage or bruising measuring 2 x 1 1/4
inches. Inferiorly the bruise extends to the superficial right temporal
muscle. There is no associated skull fracture.
INJURIES TO HANDS:
Right hand: There is a 5/8 incised wound of the volar surface of the
right index finger at the distal knuckle. This 5/8 inch incised wound is
tangentially oriented or cut through the skin and dermis with the avulsed
skin inferiorly indicating that the direction is from distal to proximal.
Further examination discloses that there is a split or forked end on the
ulnar aspect and pointed end on the radial aspect. There is a small amount
of dermal hemorrhage.
On the dorsal surface of the right hand, at the base of the ring finger,
there is a 1/16 inch punctate abrasion.
Left hand: On the dorsal surface of the left hand, there is a punctate
abrasion, red-brown in color at the base of the ring finger.
There is a 1/2 inch superficial incised skin cut, 1/2 inch in length,
diagonally oriented, on the top of the left hand, midportion.
The body is opened with the usual Y-shaped thoracoabdominal incision
revealing the abdominal wall adipose tissue to measure 1/4 - 3/8 inch in
thickness. The anterior abdominal wall has its normal muscular components
and there is no evidence of abdominal wall injury. Exposure of the body
cavities shows the contained organs in their usual anatomic locations with
their usual anatomic relationships. No free fluid or blood is found within
the pleural, pericardial, or the peritoneal cavities. The serosal surfaces
are smooth, thin, and glistening and there are no intra-abdominal
INTERNAL EVIDENCE OF INJURIES:
There are no internal traumatic injuries involving the thorax or thoracic
viscera, abdomen or abdominal viscera.
SYSTEMIC AND ORGAN REVIEW:
Autopsy findings, or the lack of them, are considered apart from those
already stated. The following observations pertain to findings other than
the injuries and changes that are described above.
MUSCULOSKELETAL SYSTEM--SUBCUTANEOUS TISSUE--SKIN
Examination of the breasts reveals bilateral silastic implants that are
intact. Otherwise, no other significant changes are noted in the breasts.
The remainder of the musculoskeletal system and subcutaneous tissue are
HEAD--CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM
The external injuries to the scalp have been described. A small abrasion,
red-brown in color, measuring 3/8 x 1/4 inch and appearing to be
antemortem is found lateral-posterior to the right eyebrow and this is a
non-patterned superficial abrasion.
The hemorrhage beneath the scalp, due to the sharp force injuries have
been described. There is no hemorrhage deep into the temporal muscles.
There are no tears of the dura mater and no recent epidural, subdural, or
The dura is stripped to reveal no fractures of the bones of the calvarium
or base of the skull.
The pituitary gland is normally situated in the sella turcica and is not
The cranial nerves are enumerated and they are intact, symmetrical and
anatomic in size, location and course.
The component vessels of the circle of Willis are identified. They are
anatomic in size, course, configuration and distribution. The blood
vessels are intact, free of aneurysms or other anomaly, and non-occluded
and show no significant atherosclerosis.
Examination of the non-formalin fixed, fresh brain shows: The cerebral
hemispheres, cerebellum, brainstem, pons and medulla to show their normal
anatomical structures. The cerebellar, the pontine and medullary surfaces
present no lesions. Multiple sections reveal an anatomic appearing cortex,
white matter, ventricular system and basal ganglia. There is no evidence
of hemorrhage, cyst or neoplasm involving the brain substance.
The spinal chord, in the vicinity of the cervical incised wound is
dissected; there is no evidence or intraspinal hemorrhage and no evidence
of sharp force injury to the spinal chord.
ORGANS OF SPECIAL SENSES:
RESPIRATORY SYSTEM--THROAT STRUCTURES
The oral cavity, viewed from below, is anatomic. The teeth are examined
and there is no evidence of injury and there is no evidence of injury to
the cheeks, lips, gums, or tongue. No blood is present.
Injuries to the upper airway including the incised wound of the
hypopharynx and epiglottis have been described. Otherwise, the mucosa of
the larynx, piriform sinuses, trachea and major bronchi are anatomic. No
mucosal lesions are evident and no blood is present.
The hyoid bone and thyroid cartilages are intact, inasmuch as the incised
wound passes through the thyrohyoid membrane and ligament and both greater
cornuas of the thyroid cartilage are intact. Hemorrhage is present in the
tissue adjacent to the neck organs due to the incised would as described
above. There is no hemorrhage into the substance of the thyroid gland
which anatomic in size and location. The parathyroid glands are not
Lungs: Right lung weighs 330 grams; left lung 300 grams. The external
appearance and that of the sectioned surface of the lungs show minimal
congestion and otherwise no injuries or lesions. No foreign material,
infarction, or neoplasm is encountered. The pulmonary arteries are free of
The heart weighs 280 grams, and is anatomic in size and configuration.
The chambers, valves and myocardium are anatomic, and a minimal amount of
liquid blood is found within the cardiac chambers. No focal endocardial,
valvular, or myocardial lesions are seen. There are no congenital
Multiple transverse sections of the left and right coronary arteries
reveal them to be thin-walled and patent throughout with no significant
atherosclerosis. The aorta and major branches are anatomic and show only
minimal lipid streaking of the intima. The portal and caval veins and the
major branches are anatomic.
Note: The injuries of the common carotid arteries and internal jugular
veins have been described above.
The mucosa and wall of the esophagus are intact and gray-pink and no
lesions or injuries are evident.
The gastric mucosa is intact and pink. No mucosal lesions are evident and
there are no residuals of medication or blood.
Examination of the gastric contents reveals approximately 500 ml. of
chewed semisolid food in the stomach. Recognizable food particles are
identified as follows: pieces of pasta appearing to be rigatoni, fragments
of apparent spinach leaves; and the remainder, chewed, partially digested
non-recognizable food material.
The mucosa of the duodenum, jejunum, ileum, colon and rectum are intact.
The lumen is patent. No mucosal lesions are evident, and no blood is
present. The fecal content is usual in appearance.
HEPATOBILIARY SYSTEM -- PANCREAS
The liver weighs 1370 grams. The capsular surface is intact. The
subcapsular and the cut surface of the liver are uniformly brown-red in
color, and free of nodularity and are usual in appearance. The biliary
duct system, including the gallbladder, are free of anomaly and no lesions
are evident. The mucosa is intact and bile stained. The lumen are patent
and no calculi are present.
The pancreas is anatomic both externally and on cut surface.
HEMOLYMPHATIC SYSTEM -- ADRENAL GLAND
The spleen weighs 90 grams and has an intact capsule. Cut surface shows
the usual dark red-purple parenchyma which is firm and no lesions are
The blood, the bone marrow and the usually-named aggregates of lymph
nodes do not appear to be significantly altered.
The thymus gland is no identifiable.
The adrenal glands are their usual size and location and cut surface
presents no lesions.
Each kidney weights 100 grams. The kidneys are anatomic in size, location
and configuration. The capsules are stripped to show a pale brown surface.
On section the cut surface shows no abnormalities of the cortex and
The calyces, pelves, ureters and urinary bladder are unaltered in
appearance. The mucosa is gray-pink, no calculi are present and no blood
The urinary bladder contains a few ml. of clear urine.
GENITAL SYSTEM (female)
The uterus, tubes, and adnexa are anatomic. Cut surface of the uterus
shows no lesions and a thin light brown endometrium. The vagina has its
normal mucosal surface and no lesions or injuries are evident.
Representative portions of the various organs, including the larynx and
hyoid, are preserved in 10% formaldehyde and placed in a single storage
A sample of cardiac chamber blood and urine are submitted for toxicologic
A sample of intracardiac blood is submitted in an EDTA tube,
In addition to the routine identification photographs, pertinent
photographs are taken of the external injury.
Detective Van Natter and Lange, Los Angeles Police Department, Robbery-
Homicide, were present during the autopsy.
Forms 16, 20, 20D, 20F, 20G, 20H, 22, 23, 24 and 29 were utilized during
the performance of the autopsy.
Death is attributed to multiple sharp force injuries, including a deep
incised wound of the neck and multiple stab wounds of the neck.
The sharp force injuries led to transection of the left and right common
carotid arteries, and incisions of the left and right internal jugular
vein causing fatal exsanguinating hemorrhage. The sharp force injury to
the scalp were superficial, non-fatal.
Injuries present on the hands, including the incised wound of the right
hand are compatible so-called defense wounds.
Routine toxicologic studies were ordered.
/s/ Irwin L. Golden M.D.
IRWIN L. GOLDEN
DEPUTY MEDICAL EXAMINER
Date: June 16, 1994
Brought to you by - The 'Lectric Law Library
The Net's Finest Legal Resource For Legal Pros & Laypeople Alike.