“It’s been a while since folks could poke fun at the Los Angeles County coroner’s office. But now, its critics say, the Keystone Coroners are back, as shown by forensic foul-ups in the O.J. Simpson case.”
Source: The Associated Press, July 17, 1994
The O.J. Simpson case was not Los Angeles County Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Irwin Golden’s first high-profile case; he conducted the autopsies of Jose & Kitty Menendez and some of the Night Stalker’s victims. According to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Golden is a board-certified forensic pathologist who joined the coroner’s office in 1980; Golden has testified in court 700 times and performed 6,500 autopsies.
Sadly, Dr. Golden’s postmortem examination of both Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman are not the first autopsies that he mishandled. In October 1994 the Los Angeles Times reported that:
records and interviews show Golden made mistakes in an October, 1990, shooting case in which he had the fatal bullet going the wrong way. A judge dismissed murder charges against a suspect in the case after other forensic experts exposed the error, records show.
Attorney Leslie Abramson described the Los Angeles County coroner’s office in the 1990’s as: “a Model T jalopy going down the road.” Abramson said Dr. Golden “knows how to drive but isn’t given all of the equipment.” And, despite having testified 700 times, Dr. Golden was not a seasoned witness; Abramson told the Los Angeles Times “”Dr. Golden is not smooth, slick or overly articulate.”
It is important to understand that Dr. Golden began his postmortem examinations at a disadvantage due to the decisions of LAPD detectives who, contrary to California law and LAPD policy, failed to call the coroner or let its investigator onto the Bundy crime scene for more than 10 hours after the bodies were discovered. Because of LAPD failing to comply with State law and their own policies, even a perfect postmortem examination would be unable to determine an accurate estimation of the time of death.
According to the Los Angeles Times, Dr. Golden’s autopsies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman included the following errors:
- The coroner’s office did not perform a “rape kit” examination on either victim, something experts said should have been routine.
- Golden discarded the contents of Nicole Simpson’s stomach.
- He failed to identify all the items contained in Goldman’s stomach.
- He did not X-ray bone fragments to look for microscopic bits from the attacker’s knife.
- Golden failed to note a bruise to Nicole Simpson’s brain.
- He failed to note that part of Goldman’s Adam’s apple was severed.
- Golden mislabeled a vial containing bile from Nicole Simpson.
- He later issued a supplemental report when he noticed additional cuts in photographs that he did not mention in his original autopsy.
The death certificates of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman
The autopsy of Nicole Brown Simpson
The autopsy of Ronald Lyle Goldman
The testimony of Dr. Irwin Goldman at Mr. Simpson’s preliminary hearing on July 8, 1994:
Direct Examination of Dr. Irwin Golden by Deputy District Attorney William Hodgman
Cross Examination of Dr. Irwin Golden by Robert Shapiro, Attorney for Mr. Simpson
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