Posted 06 May 2006 - 03:08 PM
Then Melvyn wrote here: "I will also post my answers which address Hunt's analysis of the ballistics evidence. Hunt is not a medical expert nor is he a ballistics expert. Larry Sturdivan is - and he domolishes Hunt's thesis. Be patient!"
I address Sturdivan's miguided missive in the upcoming "Robert Kennedy’s Headwounds, Part 2;
On the Trail of the Cover-Up"
Below is a preview from that essay dealing with Sturdivan:
In February, 2006, one Melvyn Ayton sent Sturdivan the internet link to Part 1 (http://www.jfklancer...unt/rfk_pt1.htm), asking for Sturdivan’s opinions on what I’d written. Ayton then posted redacted versions of Sturdivan’s response on the alt.assassination.jfk newsgroup. I contacted Sturdivan by email to inquire as to whether Ayton’s quotes were accurate. Sturdivan replied that they were “somewhat verbatim,” and that he understood that they were for publication. The sections Ayton chose to publish can be found in this footnote.  My comments have been included in [red bracketed text].
Sturdivan’s main complaint, as posted by Melvyn, was as follows:
"The whole essay hinges on Hunt's statement (about page 10), 'Thus, the 2 x 2 cm rim of raised tissue (and the 2 x 2 cm wound tract in the cerebellum) tells us that the original entry hole was 2 x 2 cm.' No, it doesn't! It tells us that the bullet damaged tissue out to about a centimeter around its trajectory. [Emphasis added.] The stretching and shearing of soft tissue abruptly pushed apart by the bullet tears cell membranes and capillary walls. The infusion of blood and cellular contents causes the tissue to swell and the back pressure prevents blood flow. This is the tissue that is already dead or will die due to lack of oxygen. It would eventually become necrotic if the patient lived. It is the tissue removed by the surgeon in the process called debridement. This effect is completely independent of the size of the hole in the skull. [Emphasis added.] Thus, all of Hunt's major conclusions in this essay are baseless, because he has no means of determining what the size of the hole in the skull was.
Essentially, Sturdivan’s complaint can be boiled down to the following statement: The 2 x 2 cm rim of raised tissue (and the associated 2 x 2 cm wound tract in the cerebellum) tells us that the bullet damaged tissue out to about a centimeter around its trajectory, and this effect is completely independent of the size of the entry hole in the skull. Thus, Hunt’s contention that the rim of tissue reflected on the size of the entry wound is in error.
Here, Sturdivan has missed the boat completely, for he is lecturing on the effects of missile penetration, which was never the issue. The rim of raised tissue in RFK’s brain had nothing to do with the effects of the penetration of the bullet. After the bullet came to rest, the brain began swelling and had nowhere to go but up through the entry hole, which is exactly what it did. And when it did, it left a tell-tale rim of upraised tissue 2 x 2 cm in diameter. That, of course, is not in keeping with the damage expected from Sirhan's .22. Sturdivan’s complaint that “all of my major conclusions are baseless, because I had no means of determining what the size of the hole in the skull was” is simply wrong. Had Sturdivan read my essay more carefully, he would have recognized that I accurately related the information from the autopsy report; Noguchi had the brain in his hands and reported that swelling cause the brain to herniate up into the entry wound. Therefore, Sturdivan’s main complaint is null and void and my original conclusion remains unmolested.
Sturdivan also wrote that:
”This effect [the raised ring of tissue on the surface of the cerebellum] is completely independent of the size of the hole in the skull.
“The area of damaged tissue "pried apart" by the bullet surrounds the track. This is qualitatively different from damage caused by the lateral pressure outward from the trajectory produced by the tissue being pushed laterally very quickly and forcefully. This outward flow will extrude tissue through any opening. The damage surrounding the track will cause swelling without extrusion. In fact, there is no backward pressure on the tissue at entry and immediately after the passage of the bullet.” [Emphasis added.]
Here, Sturdivan is attempting to demonstrate that the 2 x 2 cm raised ring of tissue adjacent to the bullet hole was not the result of tissue swelling up through the entry hole in the bone, as Noguchi concluded. Sturdivan’s contention, therefore, is that the raised tissue is not a reliable indicator of the size of the bullet hole in the skull. According to Sturdivan, the 2 x 2 cm raised ring of tissue resulted from the effects of the bullet penetration itself, and is “completely independent of the size of the hole in the skull.” Again, Sturdivan has missed the boat.
Under Sturdivan’s explanation, the 2 x 2 cm rim of tissue expanded up against the tough, inelastic dura matter that closely covers the brain, which is itself confined by the intact skull. In his report, Noguchi described the swelling to parts of RFK’s brain confined by the dura and intact skull:
The gyri [folds of brain matter] over both cerebral convexities [major hemispheres of the brain, right and left] are flattened.” [AR8]
Noguchi reported that the folds on the surface of the brain were flattened. Why was that? Because the brain swelled up against the intact dura and skull and the expanding tissue had nowhere to go, thus the gyri were flattened.
Under Sturdivan’s proposed explanation, even though the entire brain was swelling up against the tight-fitting dura, a rim of tissue somehow “rose” above very same intact dura and skull that constrained the rest of the brain.
Near the close of Sturdivan’s commentary, he related that:
"When reading the attached keep in mind that with low velocity handgun bullets [like those used in the RFK assassination] the final cavity is very little larger than the (expanded, if applicable) [It is applicable in this case. J.H.] diameter of the bullet." [Emphasis added.]
If the low velocity bullet in this case mushroomed to 1 cm wide and left a “final cavity very little larger than the diameter of the bullet,” as Sturdivan contends, then the permanent cavity would be “very little larger” than 1 cm. Yet the “opening” in the cerebellum was “2 x 2 cm.” [AR9] Unless Sturdivan contends that 2 cm is “very little larger” than 1 cm, or retracts his statement that “final cavity is very little larger than the diameter of the [low velocity] bullet,” then even under his own interpretation, the bullet that made the hole must have been substantially larger than a .22 caliber round. Sturdivan, a Wound Ballistics Researcher, cannot have it both ways.
Now, compare Noguchi’s direct observations of a “2 x 2 cm” opening in the cerebellum, a “partially collapsed 2 x 2 cm” wound tract through the cerebellum, and a “2 x 2 cm” raised rim of tissue at the bullet entry site in the cerebellum. On balance, Noguchi’s conclusion that the cerebellar tissue herniated up through the entry hole in the skull is backed up by the consistency with which he described the condition of the brain. It is also backed up by the neurosurgical literature, which describes the swelling of the brain and subsequent herniation though open avenues of escape. Against that, we have Sturdivan claiming that, “The ridge of swollen tissue was only an indication of tissue damage.”
Recall Sturdivan’s claim that “the damage surrounding the track will cause swelling without extrusion.” [Emphasis added.] Here Sturdivan appears to be making the claim that the swelling tissues would not herniate through the entry hole. Not only did Noguchi reported just such herniation at the entry site, he noted the same effect elsewhere on RFK’s brain:
"An elliptical groove over the superior surface of the anterior [forward] lobe of the cerebellum indicated upward herniation of the structures through the incisura [surgical hole] of the tentorium cerebelli." [AR10]
The operating surgeons removed two elliptically shaped portions of the dura over the cerebellum to facilitate access to the brain and Noguchi reported that the cerebellar tissue herniated through those surgical incisions [AR7] leaving tell-tale “elliptical grooves” [AR10]. Obviously, RFK’s brain continued to swell after the surgery and the tissues found a point of release; the surgical openings in dura. If what Noguchi reported was accurate, and we have no cause for doubt, the upward swelling mimicked the shape of the surgical holes through which the tissues extruded…just like it did with entry wound two hours earlier.
In the end, we must side with either the autopsy prosector and his detailed, consistent descriptions, or Sturdivan’s latter-day misdirected theorizing based upon a near complete ignorance of the medical evidence in this case.
Recall Melvyn Ayton crowing, "Sturdivan domolishes Hunt's thesis." Did Melvyn look at what I and Sturdivan wrote with a critical eye?? Obviously not.
Posted 06 May 2006 - 05:51 PM
I want to thank you on behalf of mainly myself for your time and your willingness to share a preview of Part 2. I personally am really looking forward to it and have been since I read Part 1. Don't know whether you'll be happy to know it, but that article is in fact the very reason I'm now hooked up with all you conspiratorialist loonies. So when I get in trouble in the future I plan on blaming John Hunt and his excellent analysis of RFK's head wound.
I also have some serious questions to ask, which I wrote down several weeks ago as I was beginning to help Larry Hancock on his preparation for an RFK presentation at the Lancer conference. These are semi-technical questions, but not so "medical terminological(?)" that "enquiring minds" might find hard to follow. And while they don't really relate to any angle Larry is following or covering, I suppose they could in terms of what you're addressing in Part 2 of your study. Anyway, it never hurts to ask and might help all of us as well as giving you some other things to consider.
Unfortunately, there's allegedly some kind of horse race going on today in this part of the USA that's referred to as "Kentuckiana", so I'll have to post the questions maybe tomorrow (if not hung over).
Toss in any questions you have. Unlike Ayton, I'm well educated on the RFK assassination evidence and not afraid to discuss the issues.
Posted 08 May 2006 - 03:40 PM
> stuff that we need to assume some general knowledge about in discussing the
> RFK assassination. So let's just say for starters that what is mainly being
> considered here is your analysis posted above which at minimum seems to
> indicate a larger diameter/caliber bullet having actually killed Robert
> Kennedy than Sirhan's CCI mini-mag .22s. (That way we'll initially avoid
> speculations about Cesar, etc). All readers should be referred to your
> article on RFK's head wound for the full argument.
> But a related issue is Moldea's scenario for how Sirhan allegedly got in 3-4
> close range gunshots, with 3 shots wounding RFK & the 3rd/last wounding shot
> (according to Noguchi's estimate) being the lethal shot to Kennedy's head
> from abt 1 inch away. Since this last bit about shot sequence is based on
> Noguchi's later possibly hedging/qualifying/"covering" statements, let's not
> immediately get into all that. Let's just initially assume that shot
> sequence is open for later review, but that the important thing is a lethal
> head wound which the man who performed the autopsy is real sure to the best
> of his forensic judgement, experience and qualifications was a point-blank
> shot from about 1" away.
> And so let's also just assume for starters that Moldea's "jet effect"* for
> crowd reaction (RFK being bumped forward towards his assailant) is a
> possible explanation for how the official story could be accurate. I don't
> agree with it, but will initially concede the possibility.
Personally, I don’t think Moldea is correct, although it is possible. Consider these points:
· Two witnesses said that Sirhan pushed “the waiter” (Maitre d', Karl Eucker) out of the way.
· Eucker said Sirhan never got past him, yet when Eucker demonstrated for Ted Charach the proximity between himself, RFK, and Sirhan, “Sirhan” had no trouble putting the gun (his finger) within an inch of “RFK.” Eucker repeatedly grabbed “Sirhan’s gun” and pulled it back until it was in front of his face. That accomplished, “Sirhan” fired at “RFK” with his right arm ridiculously contorted.
· At least eight men (including Rafer Johnson and Rosie Greer) struggled for nearly one minute to wrest the gun from Sirhan’s control. And when they did, Sirhan got the gun back again, this time in his left hand:
· Although he was 5’ 3” and thin, he possessed enormous strength that night. I have no problem whatsoever with Sirhan pushing Uecker out of the way.
· One witness said Sirhan got within 1.5 feet of RFK, another said Sirhan was standing 6 feet(!!) from RFK when he began firing.
I don’t have any trouble with Sirhan getting close enough to fire a few near-point blank shots. In fact, that is what I think happened.
> To me, the following represents the key evidence and arguments you make:
> <QUOTE ON>
> "If the low velocity bullet in this case mushroomed to 1 cm wide and left a
> 'final cavity very little larger than the diameter of the bullet,' as
> Sturdivan contends, then the permanent cavity would be 'very little larger'
> than 1 cm. Yet the 'opening' in the cerebellum was '2 x 2 cm.' [AR9] Unless
> Sturdivan contends that 2 cm is 'very little larger' than 1 cm, or retracts
> his statement that 'final cavity is very little larger than the diameter of
> the [low velocity] bullet,' then even under his own interpretation, the
> bullet that made the hole must have been substantially larger than a .22
> caliber round. Sturdivan, a Wound Ballistics Researcher, cannot have it both
> "Now, compare Noguchi's direct observations of a '2 x 2 cm' opening in the
> cerebellum, a 'partially collapsed 2 x 2 cm' wound tract through the
> cerebellum, and a '2 x 2 cm' raised rim of tissue at the bullet entry site
> in the cerebellum. On balance, Noguchi's conclusion that the cerebellar
> tissue herniated up through the entry hole in the skull is backed up by the
> consistency with which he described the condition of the brain. It is also
> backed up by the neurosurgical literature, which describes the swelling of
> the brain and subsequent herniation though open avenues of escape. Against
> that, we have Sturdivan claiming that, 'The ridge of swollen tissue was only
> an indication of tissue damage.'"
> "In the end, we must side with either the autopsy prosector and his
> detailed, consistent descriptions, or Sturdivan's latter-day misdirected
> theorizing based upon a near complete ignorance of the medical evidence in
> this case."
> "A hollow point round such as that allegedly used to kill RFK begins to
> deform as it strikes an object. The denser the object struck, the more the
> bullet will 'mushroom.' The result is a bullet that presents an 'enhanced'
> surface area, and thus creates a damage path wider than its original
> <QUOTE OFF>
Although Sturdivan has had my rebuttal in hand for months and has promised to respond, he has not. Sturdivan’s criticism was way off the mark and I was right on point.
> Given this as a starting point, these are the questions I noted down as I
> started thinking about issues and implications of your study.
> 1) What variation, if any, would there be in "mushroom effect" of CCI .22
> mini-mag bullet with reference to distance/proximity of muzzle to target?
It depends on the distance and how much kinetic energy the bullet has left. Once the bullet leaves the barrel, it will not gain kinetic energy. The possible distances involved in the RFK assassination are so short that the difference in kinetic energy would be negligible. IOW, you would not be able to tell the difference between a strike at 2 feet or 15 feet.
> a) Related: what about "reworked"/modified/snub-nosed barrel---would there
> be variations between the mushroom effect of bullets fired from a regular
> pistol compared with a modified one?
The only difference would be in the length of the barrel. A longer pistol barrel will allow the bullet to be propelled faster. But not by much. The difference in velocity between a snub-nose and a rifle is another matter.
> Would diameter of effect change (increase) @ point-blank range compared
> to a greater proximal "contact point" (would diameter vary according to
> varying distances of shots fired)?
No. The distances at issue are too short to matter.
> c) This would almost certainly be an argument(s) raised against John Hunt's
> analysis/argument---that snub-nosed revolver fired at point-blank range by
> Sirhan & into hard-surface EOP/occipital area would/could increase diameter
> of mushroomed .22 bullet to 2 cm x 2 cm.
Tests have shown that the .22 hollow point mushrooms to less than 1 cm. It can tear up further as it goes through tissues and re-contacts bone.
> 2) Has comparison been made via the autopsy report between the diameters of
> wound paths of head wound relative to the 2 other (body) wounds?
The wound paths in the head are covered at length in Part 2. Noguchi never described the size of the two wound paths in RFK’s upper torso. He did, however, note the sizes of the entry holes (GSW #2 was 5 x 3 mm, GSW #3 was 5 x 4. mm.) They were as tiny as the round itself.
> a) this would/could clarify the issue whether Sirhan managed to fire 2-3
> bullets at close range with .22 but that a larger caliber bullet was used
> for "kill shot"
That is exactly what I think happened. Sirhan put two bullets into RFK’s right armpit and the second assassin reached around Caesar (who was probably beginning to shrink away from Sirhan’s “frontal” assault) and put a bullet in RFK’s head while the crowd focused on Sirhan.
(suggesting a composite scenario in which the official story
> might be mostly accurate except for being unable to account for Uecker's
> recollection that he grabbed @ the gun after couple of shots)
Interestingly, Uecker’s story improved over time.
> if all wound paths are similar in diameter, the question would be the
> plausibility of someone having fired that many rounds (3-4) without
This is an interesting point. Larry Teeter and I had a long heated exchange on this issue two months before he died. My point was this: There is no question but that the shots were fired within inches of RFK. If the witnesses were correct that Sirhan was never that close, how good of witnesses can they be because “someone” got that close and no one saw it happen. Teeter finally conceded the point. I was looking forward to debating Teeter at Lancer last year but it wasn’t meant to be.
>…(assuming all wounds would be roughly 2cm x 2cm)
> c) if there is a noticeable dissimilarity in diameters, would that be
> evidence of different caliber weapons or (arguably) the variation in body
> mass/texture being hit (thru flesh in body shots, thru hard bone surface in
> head shot)?
> I know, this looks like I was only asking a couple questions when there's at
> least a half dozen in there. But the numbered ones are the main ones I was
> interested in. Again, I don't expect you to give anything away in terms of
> your Part 2 article, and I was mainly interested in what might further our
> (and possibly your own) investigation of the subject.
I have a letter in to the LA County Coroner’s Office. I asked serious questions, the answers to which could turn the case around. I don’t expect much from them, although I’m prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
And again, I thank you
> for your time and willingness to discuss this.
> *A possibly crass euphemism being used by an immature person.
Posted 09 May 2006 - 10:20 AM
In its official inventory of the bullets fired by Sirhan, the LAPD claimed that Paul Schrade was wounded by the bullet that went harmlessly through the shoulder pad of Senator Kennedy's suit coat. Some people clearly believes the LAPD's flawed and widely-discredited bullet count. I do not.
Instead, I believe that the shoulder-pad bullet probably struck one of the other four shooting victims - someone other than Schrade. So, regardless of how much some critics try to twist and torture the crime-scene evidence, my explanation does not add a single bullet to the final bullet count.
In short, I stand by what I have written, especially my conclusion that Paul Schrade was hit by the first shot - which is completely consistent with the fact that Sirhan's eight-shot revolver could not fire more than eight bullets. Once again, the simple truth is that Sirhan murdered Senator Kennedy, and he acted alone.
Posted 09 May 2006 - 12:47 PM
Hello, My name is John Geraghty, I am a student from Ireland. I recently saw you in the excellent documentary 'The Hunting of the President'.
As you have written on organisded crime in the past, can I ask you what you think of Larry Teeters assertion that John Roselli was involved with the assassination and fixing an attorney for Sirhan that would not fight for Sirhans innocence.
Have you personally talked to Sirhan? I have not read your RFK book so forgive mt ignorance for asking these questions should they be answered therein.
All the best,
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