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An Unusual Experience

When I was District Attorney of a 5-county district in Southern Oklahoma, including Carter County, I wanted to learn as much as I could about homicide investigations and in particular, how a pathologist determined the cause of death and the circumstances surrounding same. If we had a murder case I wanted to be well advised so I could assist the detectives who investigated it.

So, I enrolled in a homicide seminar in Dallas, conducted by the Chief Medical Examiner of Dallas County, Texas.

There were about 300 attendees, prosecutors, investigators and homicide detectives.

The speaker, a tall, thin man who dressed casually, used a large screen behind him to show photos of some of the death cases he’d investigated. Some of the photos were quite gruesome but I found the program quite interesting. I watched them all.

He told us, “I’m going to show you all some slides of a young Black female, a teenager, who died as the result of a fall, as determined by detectives who were called to the scene. They concluded the death was accidental, but I didn’t buy it.”

He went on to tell us about a party that was attended by about 25 young Black teenagers, male and female. He told us that it was just before Christmas and the weather was cold and there was ice everywhere. He said, “That’s why the detectives ruled the death was accidental.”

Then he came to the crux of his lecture. He said, “I’m going to show you a photo and I would ask if anyone here shows anything unusual and inconsistent with the accidental death ruling.”

He then showed us a very attractive young Black female, lying on her back. She was wearing a black turtleneck sweater. No one, including me, raised their hand. We all saw nothing unusual.

He then said, “Okay, now I want everyone to focus on this young lady’s left breast. See anything?”

Still, no one raised their hand.

The Chief then pointed to a tiny hole in the young girl’s sweater. He then said, “This young lady was stuck right in her heart with an ice pick! This was a homicide, no question.”

And there it was, clearly visible for all to see.

Everyone wanted to know what happened to the young girl.

He explained: “After I ruled the death was a homicide, detectives went back to the house and took statements from everyone there. They discovered that the young girl had been in a fight with another young girl, a classmate, and as the young girl started to leave, her classmate stabbed her in her heart with an ice pick which she had in her jeans. The victim stumbled outside, slipped on the ice and fell, dead within minutes.”

He told us that the assailant was 18, the victim 17, so the assailant was charged with Second Degree Murder, pleaded guilty and served 5 years in prison.

Later, in a private conversation, I asked him about the motive for the murder. The Chief told me that the young assailant was jealous of the attention her boyfriend was paying to the victim and decided to kill her.

A horrific, terrible, senseless act that ended a life.
-james a. clark