Meet the experts – David Westerfield trial – murder of Danielle Van Dam


January 12th 2003. MEET THE EXPERTS:
DOCTEUR BRIAN BLACKBOURNE, San Diego county medical examiner. Blackbourne directed Danielle Van Dam’s autopsy.
PAUL REDDEN – San Diego police polygraph examiner. Redden administred polygraph tests in the murder case of Danielle Van Dam.

On March 1998, an article was published via Truth in Justice related to the death of Kristi M. Miller which happened in 1993.
The full article is worth reading as it brings up an interesting insight concerning the integrity of San Diego Police and the San Diego Medical Examiner’s office. You can read the full story HERE.

Extract from this article:
“The murder charge and Miller’s speedy acquittal focus attention on the performance of the key physicians in the San Diego County Medical Examiner’s Office, who rule on homicides, accidents, suicides and unusual deaths. “
Dr. Christopher I. Swalwell — in consultation with his boss, San Diego County Medical Examiner Dr. Brian D. Blackbourne, and the department’s chief deputy, Dr. Harry J. Bonnell — made the crucial decision to convert the cause of death from accident to homicide.
Initially, after Kristi Miller’s body was found on the night of Aug. 23, 1993, in a pasture behind her home in the city of Imperial, Swalwell ruled the 28-year-old woman had died accidentally from numerous head wounds apparently inflicted by an ornery cow.
But five months later, the pathologist formally changed his opinion, calling the death a homicide.

Jeffrey Miller’s attorney, Everett L. Bobbitt of San Diego, is blunt in his assessment of the Medical Examiner Office’s role.
“They were incompetent,” Bobbitt said. “They didn’t spend the necessary time to determine what happened. Only after political pressure did they change their minds. They gave him (the sheriff) the opinion he wanted.”
Blackbourne said, “That is absolutely not right. I don’t think this has any effect on the Medical Examiner’s Office.”
Swalwell did not respond to repeated requests for comment.


On January 1999, an article was published via Join hands concerning the investigation of the death of a 3-year old boy Scotty Neaves which happened in 1996.
The full article is worth reading as it brings up an interesting insight concerning the integrity of the San Diego police, the San Diego Medical Examiner’s office AND the integrity of polygraph tests administred by Paul Redden, the San Diego police polygraph examiner.

Extract from this article:
“The Neaveses, who have since moved to Oregon, question the performance of Dr. Brian D. Blackbourne, the county medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Scotty, because of his conflicting rulings in the case. Initially Blackbourne ruled the manner of death was undetermined, according to records. About six months later, he changed the manner of death to “homicide,” but only after the family pushed for a review by an outside expert.

[…] The Medical Examiner’s Office has been harshly criticized in recent months by families who allege that deaths caused by the negligence of hospitals and physicians have been covered up. The Medical Board of California is investigating the performance of county pathologists in a number of these cases.
[..] About two months after Scotty’s death, a San Diego police examiner gave Cummings a lie detector test. Cummings’ father and Detective Doakes watched from outside the room.

San Diego police told Michael that his daughter passed the test, indicating she did not kill Scotty. But a videotape of the exam shows she vomited when asked if she had harmed the boy.

An independent expert contacted by the Union-Tribune said that in more than 30 years of conducting polygraph tests, he had never seen a subject vomit during a test. He said it made the exam “meaningless.”
“I don’t think you can come to a reliable conclusion if someone vomits during the test,” said Paul K. Minor, a Virginia polygraph authority who set up and ran the FBI’s polygraph program.
Paul Redden, the San Diego police polygraph examiner who administered the test to Cummings, declined to be interviewed.

Lie detector tests are not admitted as evidence in court because of questions about reliability. But Medical Examiner Blackbourne used the polygraph results in his initial ruling on Scotty’s death.
On June 27, 1996, Blackbourne ruled that the death was caused by brain bruises, massive brain swelling and bleeding. But the manner of death — homicide, accident or suicide — was left undetermined.
Dr. David L. Chadwick, who directed the Children’s Hospital Center for Child Protection for nearly 30 years before retiring in 1997, said Blackbourne’s initial opinion baffled him, so he called the medical examiner for an explanation. [..] During that phone call to Blackbourne, Chadwick said, the medical examiner explained that he ruled the manner of death to be undetermined partly because Cummings passed the polygraph test.

This surprised him, Chadwick said, because such evidence is not the type of anatomical pathology on which a medical examiner normally depends.
[..] Blackbourne could not explain why his office did not initially do the test Zais performed.


Between Blackbourne, Redden, Ott and Keyser; between the D.A., Paul Pfingst, who messed up the Stephanie Crowe case and was seeking re-election, I wonder how anybody could even believe that the investigation of the murder of Danielle Van Dam was conducted properly. I think people should really ask themselves: “Is it possible Westerfield was framed?“. For what I am concerned, it is obvious.

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