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Continuing Coverage of the George Zimmerman Trial

Aired July 5, 2013 - 14:00   ET


DR. SHIPING BAO, MEDICAL EXAMINER (ph): You right now, I do not remember anything.

DON WEST, ZIMMERMAN'S DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Part of the protocol also includes fingernail clippings, correct?

BAO: It's not my protocol. It's not my job. It's technician job. They are trained to do that.

WEST: Don't you supervise the technicians?

BAO: I supervise them.

WEST: Don't you make sure they do their job completely and correctly?

BAO: I have confidence on them.

WEST: Well --

BAO: They are trained to do their job. I cannot keep my eye on them when I do autopsy. I do autopsy. My hands is gloved. My hands is bloody.

WEST: Are you doing an autopsy with bloody gloved hands when the fingernails are scraped?

BAO: No.

WEST: All right.

BAO: I look at them before we do autopsy.

WEST: Sure. And --

BAO: And after we look at it, and we write down -- we should write at that point and as we start autopsy. And we never look at again.

WEST: So you're saying you don't know whether or not it's standard protocol to make fingernail clippings as well as scrapings?

BAO: No, I don't know. I even don't know that protocol exists because it's not part of my job.

WEST: May I approach the witness?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, you may. WEST: I'm going to show you what's called an evidence accountability sheet.

BAO: Yes. All right.

WEST: Do you have that?

BAO: Yes, I do have that. This one?

WEST: Right. And do you see that there is a check box -

BAO: Yes.

WEST: For fingernail scrapings that's checked?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: And you see one for fingernail clippings that is not checked, correct?

BAO: Yes. Yes.

WEST: That tells you then there were no fingernail clippings -

BAO: Yes.

WEST: As part of the autopsy procedure here.

BAO: And actually I remember in Texas (ph) they do clipping, here they do scraping. It's chief's call. The chief of medical examiner office makes the decision how to do the business. I'm the associate medical examiner. My job is determining the cause and the manner of death. I will not worry about the protocol, the technician.

WEST: You don't - you don't worry about whether the -- the technician is following the protocol at the office?

BAO: Yes -

WEST: It's not your job?

BAO: No, it's not.

WEST: And in this case, so you would have no idea why no fingernail clippings were preserved?

BAO: Yes. I - I was there. I don't remember what they did. It's not my job to worry about it.

WEST: So that would mean then that you don't know if they weren't kept because they chose not to --

BAO: Yes, they do not do that. I -

WEST: Or -- or that there weren't any fingernail clippings because the nails were so short they couldn't get any? You don't know? BAO: I told you before, I don't remember.

WEST: Did you do a blood draw for routine toxicology in this case?

BAO: We tried to get blood for every case.

WEST: So in this case, there was blood drawn as part of the routine autopsy protocol for submission to a toxicology lab for analysis, is that correct?

BAO: Yes. In my notes, I -- we note that the blood is from Trayvon's chest.

WEST: Right. For toxicology its --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, your honor. The issue we previously addressed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. The court has made a pretrial ruling about this matter. Please abide by the court's order.

WEST: Of course, your honor. Yes, for toxicology purposes -

BAO: Yes.

WEST: The blood that was drawn was from the chest area, correct?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: For toxicology purposes, it's -- it's better, is it not, that the blood be drawn from a peripheral source?

BAO: Yes. Peripheral blood is the best (INAUDIBLE) choice, such as femural (ph) blood.

WEST: Femural blood -


WEST: Somewhere down in the leg?

BAO: Yes. Also (INAUDIBLE) blood from here.

WEST: Right. In this case did you - did you attempt to get peripheral blood?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: How do you know?

BAO: I do not remember.

WEST: Pardon me?

BAO: You wanted to catch me. I do not remember. I told you generally speaking, OK, we try to get peripheral blood first. If we cannot get peripheral blood, we try heart second. If we cannot get blood from the heart, then we try something else. In this case, Trayvon Martin has no blood left everywhere else. All blood is in the chest. That's our only option, I believe.

WEST: You're suggesting - I mean you saw the photos.

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Obviously your staff took them, that there was no source of blood anywhere in his body other than the chest --

BAO: (INAUDIBLE) I have that on my autopsy report.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait till he finishes with his question and then you may give your answer.

BAO: The question is wrong (ph).

WEST: Is it your testimony that there was no source of blood for toxicology purposes that would qualify as peripheral blood?

BAO: Yes, you -

WEST: Correct.

BAO: There was peripheral blood we were taken.

WEST: Do you know what attempts may have been made specifically in this case?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection, your honor. Can we approach the bench.

BAO: You ask me this case.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Just one second, please.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: We are just after the top of the hour here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Quick pause there in the George Zimmerman murder trial. It's what they call a side bar. They kill the mikes so these lawyers can approach the bench and have a little discussion.

What you have been watching and what we've been watching for really the crux of the day is this associate medical examiner. This man by the name of Dr. Bao. He is the person to have performed that final autopsy on 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. He is being cross-examined by one of the co-counsel, defense co-counsel Don West.

Let me just bring in my legal experts who will walk us through all of this. For however long this lasts before presumably the state rests today, we have Tanya Miller (ph) here in studio, current criminal defense attorney, former prosecutor here. Also Eleanor Odom (ph), prosecutor. So welcome to both of you.

TANYA MILLER: Thank you.

ELEANOR ODOM: Thank you. BALDWIN: And in Stanford, Florida, where this trial is takes place, we have Sunny Hostin and Mark Nejame. We'll be speaking with all of them momentarily. But now the trial is back, so we listen.

WEST: Toxicology purposes, in this case you're saying was not available through a peripheral source?

BAO: In this case, I don't know. I don't remember. But generally speaking, we should get blood from peripheral if there is one.


BAO: In this case, I do not believe there is one.

WEST: Did - did - do you -- do you do that yourself?

BAO: No (ph).

WEST: Are you the one that draws the blood for that purpose?

BAO: I never draw blood (INAUDIBLE).

WEST: So in this - in this case, who drew the blood that was submitted as part of the toxicology --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) objection, your honor.

BAO: It's - it's -

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait. Wait (INAUDIBLE) -- when there's an objection, you can't answer until I make a ruling. Thank you.

The court has made a pretrial determination and I'm asking counsel to make sure you abide by that.

WEST: Certainly. Do you know who drew the blood?

BAO: I believe it's Ben Dorton (ph).

WEST: He was the hands-on guy, correct, in terms of assisting with the --

BAO: Yes.

WEST: And whereas Ms. Feller (ph) was the clean hands person (ph)?

BAO: Yes. Yes. It would (ph) -

WEST: It makes sense it would have been Ben Dorton, then?

BAO: Yes, yes, yes.

WEST: OK. Do you have 107?

May I approach the witness, your honor?


WEST: Now, Dr. Bao, I'm going to show you states' exhibit 107. It's already in evidence.


WEST: It's a better quality picture than the ones on the screen. Would you take a look at that?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Do you recognize those to be the pants that Trayvon Martin was wearing at the time the autopsy was performed?

BAO: Yes. This - this is one of the photos I have.

WEST: Correct.

BAO: There's a case number, so I believe it is.

WEST: That came from your office?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Taken by Ms. Feller, most likely?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: And is considered part of the case package?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: And you would have seen those pants at some point?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: (INAUDIBLE). Your honor, could I publish it briefly?

BAO: Yes, you may.

WEST: OK. I'll just pass it down. That's -- OK. And I'll keep --

You've had an opportunity to look at all of the photographs that your staff took in connection with this autopsy?

BAO: Yes. I went through many, many times.


BAO: I went through these photos many, many times.

WEST: And am I correct that there are no photographs that show the palms of Mr. Martin's hands?

BAO: I do not recall. I -

WEST: Take a look.

BAO: We look at photos all - all the abrasion (ph) on the left fingers.

WEST: Right. I know. I know. One - if you have them -- if you have them in your memory, just tell me if you can, are there any photographs that were taken that showed Trayvon Martin's palms?

BAO: No, I don't believe we have that.

WEST: Is it part of your protocol not to photograph the entire body, all of the body surfaces?

BAO: The protocol is we take photos as whole body. We take three photos to cover all the bodies because we don't have space to get a camera too high, very high to get one photo of the whole body. Other than that, we take the photos as need. For example, if I found something I thought may be significant, such as the injury, a tumor, a disease on skin, we will take photo.

WEST: Are you saying it was a conscious decision by your staff member not to photograph the palms of Trayvon Martin's hands?

BAO: I look at the palm, generally speaking, for every case, because the body coming, the hand is contracted (ph). I have to bend them straight and look at them. If I do not find anything, I just pass.

WEST: And you don't take a picture?

BAO: I do not take picture for anywhere I don't think is significant.

WEST: So you're making a decision on the fly what might be significant later and make a conscious decision not to photograph certain parts of the body?

BAO: Yes, it was my decision, I think. I look at it. I did not see any injury. I did not see any disease. So we just move on.

WEST: That's what you're looking for is injury or disease?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Likewise, you don't have any pictures of Trayvon Martin's fingernails, is that correct?

BAO: I do not believe we have that.

WEST: Was that also a conscious decision not to take a picture that would show his fingernails?

BAO: It's not a particular decision. I believe we do not do that. If I do not find anything significant or disease or injuries.

WEST: That's certainly not a cost issue, is it?

BAO: It is not a cost issue. WEST: It's just a digital camera.

BAO: Yes.

WEST: The images are stored digitally?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: You're not paying for film or copies or anything?

BAO: I do not even worry about that. When we do autopsy, for any profession, I work in the hospital, in the medical examiner office, the efficiency is so important. In this case, we started autopsy 10:30. That means we -- I did another one before Trayvon Martin. I would start autopsy 9:00. And this is Monday morning. I will have another autopsy to do after this case. So we take maybe five to 10 photos as need.

WEST: So you're saying that you're kind of in a hurry and you don't want to take a full body set of photographs?

BAO: No, I'm not in a hurry. I said for any case we take five to 10 photos. We do not just take photos for the purpose of future use. We take 100 photos, cover everywhere, it's -- we cannot do that.

WEST: Your testimony is that you can't take pictures of all the body surfaces?

BAO: No, we cannot. There is no reason to do that.

WEST: And that's because it takes too much time? Or costs too much in resources? What's the reason?

BAO: What's the reason? That's -- we do that all the time. We did that before. We did that on this case. We will do that in the future.

WEST: So in other words, without the photographs in this case, nobody can look and make a decision for themselves whether you missed something or whether they would see --

BAO: I do not believe I missed anything.

WEST: Let me finish, please.

BALDWIN: A quick break. Back to this medical examiner cross- examination, getting into the nitty-gritty here. A lot of questions about protocol here to this man. Be right back.


BALDWIN: And testimony resumes here in the George Zimmerman trial. Here is Defense Attorney Don West cross-examining the witness, this associate medical examiner here. Let's dip back in. Keep in mind, this is a huge day for the state. This could possibly be their final witness. Let's listen. WEST: Zimmerman when he was shot. You're saying he could have received this abrasion between where he was at the time of the shot and when he fell forward on the grass?

BAO: Yes, that's too specific. I - it is my opinion that could happen before they met, during the struggle or after he was shot.

WEST: You're not suggesting, are you, that Mr. Martin could receive the abrasion on his finger by falling on to wet, soft grass?

BAO: It shouldn't happen.

WEST: It would require a hard, ungiving surface of some sort?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Something abrasive?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Something like cement or something with a hard edge?

BAO: Yes. You're right.

WEST: Certainly not wet, soggy soil?

BAO: I don't think so.

WEST: Now, you said also that it's not something that would bleed correctly? It wouldn't bleed much?

BAO: Yes. Yes. This injury there's no blood. Blood is still inside of the tissue. Still inside of capillary.

WEST: Can there be blood sometimes?

BAO: Shouldn't.

WEST: Right. But can there be? Could that wound be enough?

BAO: When I look at it, there are no blood (INAUDIBLE).

WEST: Right. It could have been wiped off?

BAO: I don't think so.

WEST: It could have been -

BAO: It is so - it is so superficial. The blood vessel did not have injury.

WEST: All right. So if there had been some blood that you didn't see, it could have been wiped off but -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection. Speculation.


WEST: The body reacts to being injured by putting some fluids, too, correct?

BAO: Yes. Blood (ph).

WEST: So there -- even if it's not blood, there could be some other bodily fluids that would kind of come to help start the healing?

BAO: Yes. The injury - any injury for any place in the body, the body will try to get more blood to the area, to get more nutrition, to get more (INAUDIBLE), to get more (INAUDIBLE) cells -


BAO: White blood cells to fight for the disease or injury.

WEST: Sure. So if something came in contact with that -- that abrasion, cloth or something, there could be some transfer of those bodily fluids, if not actually blood?

BAO: So there is no hemorrhage. So there is no clot. Just superficial abrasion (ph).

WEST: So that -- your opinion is there wouldn't -- if that abrasion were to come in contact with someone's clothing, there would be no transfer of biological matter?

BAO: It could be because the superficial skin was off. So - so I believe there a possibility after this injury, the superficial (ph) skin could transfer from one person to another. Any time you have contact, you have something transferred. It's called trace evidence. It's in the book. What is trace evidence means you have contact, you have something transferred.

WEST: May we retrieve the exhibit?


WEST: Thank you, judge. Thank you.

OK. You mentioned Trayvon Martin's height. That's 71 inches, 5'11".

BAO: I never said height, because the dead man cannot stand.

WEST: Well, I meant length. Body length.

BAO: Yes, length.

WEST: Correct. 71 inches, 5'11"?

BAO: Yes, 71 inches, 5'11", yes.

WEST: And you -- the weight was 158?

BAO: Yes. WEST: And on the notes taken during your examination, that is a BMI of 22, correct?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Do you know what I'm -- what BMI is?

BAO: Yes. Yes.

WEST: All right, body mass index.

BAO: Yes. (INAUDIBLE) if he's obese, I will write down in the autopsy report. If he's in normal range, I would -- let me see the diagram, 22, yes, 22, he's is normal range, so I did not wrote that in my autopsy report, just in the diagram.

WEST: In the body diagram sheet -

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Where it's noted that Mr. Martin was 71 inches and 158 pounds -

BAO: Yes.

WEST: It's also noted that his BMI is 22?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: And that's in the normal range for someone his size and weight?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Neither obese nor underweight?

BAO: Yes. Normal range is 20 to 25.

WEST: I'm just looking around here so I don't repeat what you've already said and we'll try to move forward.

BAO: OK. Yes.

WEST: And I think I'm at the point now where I'd like to talk with you specifically about the gunshot wound itself.


WEST: No, actually, actually before I do that, let's talk about the length of time that in your opinion Mr. Martin may have lived.

BAO: One to 10 minutes.

WEST: Right. That's what you said before.

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Are you saying that his minimum or minimum time that he would have survived is one minute?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: And the maximum time he would have survived is 10 minutes?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: And that's based upon your review of literature?

BAO: No, it's based on my experience. I did autopsy, and I have worked in three medical examiner's office.

WEST: Let me ask you this about your experience. Have you ever done personal research, professional research, that has resulted in peer reviewed publications?

BAO: For this -- for the survive - survival --

WEST: Gunshot wound survival times or anything related to gunshot wounds?

BAO: Yes. I read many books.

WEST: I understand. My question, though, is more precise. It's, have you done any research yourself, written any articles, on this subject matter?

BAO: Not in the last six months.

WEST: Are you published in the area of gunshot wounds?

BAO: No, I did not.

WEST: Are you published in the area of what the survival time might be for a wound such as Mr. Martin sustained?

BAO: i did not.

WEST: So your source of information, when you offer your opinion of one to 10 minutes, is based upon your review of other people's work?

BAO: Based on my autopsy and other people's autopsy, which I work with, because --

WEST: When you say you work with --

BAO: (INAUDIBLE) case come to my office, or come to the office, back in Texas or back in Alabama, normally we have morning conference. Then we go to morgue to do autopsy together. We watch each other's case to have more experience, to learn from each other.

WEST: In this instance, though, are you saying that in working with other medical examiners over time, you've done your own research project?

BAO: No, I do not have any research project on this manner. WEST: So you don't have any database, if you will, of how long someone would be expected to live --

BALDWIN: Got to take a quick break. Then we will dip back into testimony here. This associate medical examiner talking now specifically about his experience versus what he's read in books as far as what he knows when it comes to gunshot wounds and length of time of survival. Be right back.


BALDWIN: Cross-examination continues here of Dr. Bao. Here he is on the stand. Let's listen.

WEST: Journals or articles or textbooks?

BAO: No. No. It's mostly --

WEST: Your hands-on experience?

BAO: My hands was not on. My eye was on.

WEST: Is this because of a specific case you were working on?

BAO: Yes. Three weeks ago -- let me -- let me say this case.

WEST: Yes, if you would, just tell us exactly what it was, your experience was three weeks ago, that has caused you to more than triple the time that Trayvon Martin is likely to have been alive.

BAO: OK. Three weeks ago we had a case. One guy, about 40 years ago - he's 40 years old, was shot by his father. His father was the real self-defense. He called 911 right away. We have clear --

WEST: Sorry, I -

BAO: Crime log -

WEST: I'm going -- I'm sorry. Is this information that's in your personal knowledge or are you relying on other people's reports?

BAO: My knowledge, because the reason I did not do autopsy on this case, but I have great interest in on this case.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. She needs to be able to hear everything that you're saying. What is it that you're missing?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My knowledge because the reason I did not do --

BAO: OK. I did not do autopsy on this case, but I have very great interest on this case because this case is similar to Trayvon Martin's autopsy. This 40-years-old was shot. The gun through the heart, also right ventricle, through the liver. In Trayvon's case, the gun -- the bullet through the right ventricle of the heart and to the lung. And very rare. This is kind of one of 10 years of opportunity that we know exactly the time he was alive. His father called 911 right away. And he was in pain and make some painful noise. And the 911 people actually hear that. He was pronounced dead 10 minutes after he was shot. Very clear time. Very rare you can have clear picture after people was shot how long he alived. So in this case, this guy, 40 years old, shot by his father, his father called 911 right away. We have clear picture. He was alive for 10 minutes. I was so interested on this case because I'm preparing for this case. So I believe if you shoot the heart, people can survive 10 minutes.

WEST: OK. That's your frame of reference then?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: That other case where there's some evidence that the person was alive longer than your first opinion of one to three minutes?

BAO: Yes.

WEST: Would you agree the range could be quite different -

BAO: Oh, yes.

WEST: Depending on the circumstances?