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All Charges Against Dr. Wecht Dropped

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Wecht's lawyers seek rebuke of Buchanan

Sen. Arlen Specter says U.S. attorney's comments "not appropriate"

Saturday, July 04, 2009

By Timothy McNulty, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The legal team for Dr. Cyril H. Wecht is asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to formally rebuke Pittsburgh's U.S. attorney for insisting at a news conference last month that Mr. Wecht committed crimes even though charges were dismissed against the former Allegheny County coroner.

Former Attorney General Richard Thornburgh wrote Mr. Holder June 16 that statements by U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan at the June 2 event "vindictively ... expressed the view that Dr. Wecht was a criminal and was guilty of the charges made against him."

"We trust you will agree such statements by a United States prosecutor are completely improper, violate all notions of prosecutorial ethics and decency, and warrant remedial action by the Department of Justice," Mr. Thornburgh wrote later in the letter. "Ms. Buchanan's vindictive statements have served to bring the Justice Department into disrepute."

A federal grand jury indicted Mr. Wecht in January 2006 on 84 counts, including mail fraud, wire fraud and theft, for misusing his government office to benefit his private pathology business. Over the years -- which included an August 2008 mistrial after the jury deadlocked -- Ms. Buchanan's office whittled the charges down to 14 counts, and in May of this year a federal judge suppressed much of the evidence in the case.

Ms. Buchanan was defiant at the June 2 news conference where she announced her office was dismissing Dr. Wecht's case, which she said was forced by the judge's decision.

"He wasn't acquitted of anything. It was a hung jury ... However, in our society, everyone is innocent until proven guilty," she said.

"I'm absolutely confident it was the right prosecution to bring," she said. "This case has never been about anything other than a criminal act.

"If I could have a do-over, I'd still bring the case. Even with the tremendous criticism that's been dumped on this office, I still believe a crime was committed here."

U.S. Senator Arlen Specter, D-Pa., mentioned the letter during an appearance in Oakdale yesterday, saying Ms. Buchanan's statements were "not appropriate."

"When a case is dismissed, the presumption of innocence is that the person is innocent," said the former Philadelphia district attorney. "There ought not to be a denunciation of the edification that the individual is guilty. That's not fair play."

Asked if he thought Ms. Buchanan should resign, he said that was between her and Mr. Holder. "The attorney general has full authority to take care of the situation," Mr. Specter said.

President George W. Bush appointed Ms. Buchanan to the Western District of Pennsylvania job in September 2001. U.S. attorneys traditionally tender their resignations when new presidents take over, but she has not, telling the Post-Gazette in December that "I am open to considering further service to the United States."

Mr. Specter said a legal panel is due to interview replacement U.S. attorney candidates on July 17 and he, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey and the state congressional delegation will work with the Obama administration to announce a replacement in "a few weeks." They are also reviewing candidates for Pennsylvania's Middle and Eastern districts.

Ms. Buchanan was out of town yesterday and unavailable for comment.

Mr. Thornburgh served as attorney general under Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, and had Ms. Buchanan's job from 1969 through 1975. Fellow Wecht attorney Jerry McDevitt said yesterday that the team has not received a response from Mr. Holder on the rebuke request.

Mr. Specter was in town to laud a previously announced $13 million project, funded with federal stimulus money, to improve the cloverleaf interchange on the Parkway West at Steubenville Pike, near Robinson Town Centre.

Asked why the $787 billion stimulus was not producing more jobs -- figures released Thursday showed a 26-year high in unemployment -- Mr. Specter cautioned patience, noting that it was not approved until February.

"The real question is where we'd be if we didn't have the stimulus, and I think the unemployment picture would be a lot worse," he said.

Conservative Republicans were outraged after Mr. Specter voted for President Obama's stimulus package, leading him to switch parties and run for re-election as a Democrat next year. After the June 30 federal fundraising period, his said his campaign should have some $8 million in the bank, far outpacing his Democratic and Republican rivals for the seat.

U.S. Rep. Joe Sestak and state Rep. Bill Kortz are the likely other Democrats and former Club For Growth President Pat Toomey is the leading Republican name.

Police interviewed a North Dakota man Tuesday after he left a telephone message with Mr. Specter's office at the Capitol threatening to kill the senator. The man claimed to be intoxicated, The Associated Press reported.

Tim McNulty can be reached at tmcnulty@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1581.

First published on July 4, 2009 at 12:00 am


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Guest Tom Scully

Hey Bill?

Isn't it apparent that, in week 24 of the Obama presidency, the Bush/Cheney regime still seems to be the primary influence on the way business

is conducted at the DOJ and the DOD?




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Hey Bill?

Isn't it apparent that, in week 24 of the Obama presidency, the Bush/Cheney regime still seems to be the primary influence on the way business

is conducted at the DOJ and the DOD?

<a href="http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/07/05/the-contents-of-the-fitzgerald-cheney-interview-annotated-edition/#more-4418" target="_blank">http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/07/...tion/#more-4418</a>

<a href="http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/6/24/746508/-Demanding-Justice-in-the-Paul-Minor-Case" target="_blank">http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/6/24/74...Paul-Minor-Case</a>

<a href="http://washingtonindependent.com/49598/breaking-obama-administration-withholds-cia-torture-report-until-august-31" target="_blank">http://washingtonindependent.com/49598/bre...until-august-31</a>

Yea, they better clean up the mess they left.


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  • 7 months later...
  • 3 months later...
  • 2 months later...

An excerpt from Cyril Wecht's latest interview:

Melissa Parker
(Smashing Interviews Magazine): Dr. Wecht, in the President John F. Kennedy case, what was the first obvious clue you had that told you there was more than one bullet fired in the assassination?

Dr. Cyril Wecht
: The first obvious clue is when you look at the sine qua non Warren Commission’s report’s conclusion vis-à-vis Oswald is the sole assassin. Without the single bullet theory, there cannot be one assassin. You either have a single bullet theory, which permits you to have one shooter, or you don’t. If you don’t you’ve got to have two shooters.

There were seven wounds in two men; two large bones broken, four inches of a rib in Gov. John Connally destroyed, and the distal radius fractured extensively. Look at the trajectory which the bullet is zig zagging, the positions of the two men, and the bullet that has left pieces of itself which are demonstrable on x-ray in four different anatomic locations; one in Kennedy and three in Connally. a bullet that lost only 1 ½ percent of its total weight despite having left pieces of itself, and a bullet which emerges near pristine condition. The nose and the cone of the bullet are completely intact. There is no deformity except for the base from the impact of the firing mechanism.

The government themselves conducted an experiment with the same ammunition (6.5-millimeter military ammunition) from a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, the alleged murder weapon. They hit one rib of a goat carcass to simulate Connally’s rib fracture then shot through a human cadaver’s wrist breaking the radius to simulate Connally’s wrist fracture. Every single bullet showed substantial overwhelming deformity and those were bullets that either hit the goat’s rib or hit the radius in the cadaver. That was their experiment, which they have refused to ever repeat.

There is the acoustic evidence also. A wonderful PhD, Don Thomas, who wrote the book Hear No Evil, correlates the shots from an auditory standpoint. In 1965 I gave a paper at the American Academy of Forensic Sciences and they devoted a full day to the Warren Commission’s report that had come out in late 1964. I was asked to represent the Pathology section, so that started me on this path and here we are in 2010 coming up on a full 45 years.

I’ve been actively involved for those years, have written many papers and chapters in books, appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs, and have probably given thousands of talks on the subject. That’s the sheer absurdity of the Warren Commission’s report. The single bullet theory is a joke.

Melissa Parker
(Smashing Interviews Magazine): They totally dropped the ball in the original autopsy, didn’t they?

Dr. Cyril Wecht
: It was done by two pathologists, Humes and Boswell, who had never done a medical legal autopsy in their entire careers. When they were called in to testify I was a member of the House Select Committee of the Assassinations Pathology Panel, which was convened in 1977 to reinvestigate the deaths of Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King.

Humes and Boswell came in and were asked, “Did you ever do a medical legal autopsy case before you did the case on Kennedy?” They said, “No.” Can you imagine? Let’s set aside politics and feelings about the president, that’s neither here nor there. This is 1963, modern times, and this is your president. This is not Abraham Lincoln in the century before and you’re going to do this autopsy after you have illegally taken the body away from Dallas! There was no law that permitted them to do that, no law in effect that permitted them to take that body out of Dallas.

There was a competent board certified forensic pathologist there, Dr. Earl Rose, at Parkland Hospital along with the local justice of the peace ready to assume jurisdiction and perform the autopsy. Okay, so they took the body illegally and delayed the autopsy for 8 hours. But, they then called in Fink from the AFIP (Air Force Institute of Pathology) who had some limited experience mostly dealing with larger type ammunition from the Vietnam War, but who was not really a practicing forensic pathologist in terms of typical kinds of gunshot wounds and so on.

They missed a bullet hole in the neck. It wasn’t until the next day they learned that there was a bullet hole in the neck. They saw only a tracheotomy until the next morning when they talked to Dr. Perry, the lead surgeon in Dallas. A guy named Tomlinson found the “stretcher” bullet while he was trying to get to the men’s room and stretchers blocked the corridor. Nobody had seen this bullet before.

When this information was conveyed to the pathologist that night at Bethesda where the autopsy was being done, incredibly they said, “Well, when the president lay on his back and they applied pressure for cardiac massage, that pressure forced a bullet back out through the hole in the back and fell onto his clothing, then from his clothing onto a stretcher.” That was the origin of the “stretcher” bullet as of that Friday night (laughs).

The next morning (November 23) when they learned the bullet had come out of the neck, then the “stretcher” bullet was now at the front of his neck. It had gone through 6 inches of soft tissue, gone through the starched collar, got frightened to death, and just plopped down right there.

Five and a half months later when they put the single bullet theory together, that same bullet became a bullet that continued on through Kennedy, through Connally’s chest, Connally’s wrist, into Connally’s side, and came out of his left thigh. That’s why I dubbed it the “magic” bullet. It will readily accommodate you, whatever you need from it at any particular point in time and will make itself available to you.

Melissa Parker
(Smashing Interviews Magazine): They didn’t keep Kennedy’s brain, did they?

Dr. Cyril Wecht
: No they did not dissect the brain. We were told it was preserved. But I discovered in 1972, when I was the first non-government forensic pathologist given access to the autopsy materials at the National Archives that the president’s brain was missing. That was in August of 1972. So here we are 38 years later and nobody has officially accounted for the president’s brain.

Melissa Parker
(Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s beyond belief, isn’t it?

Dr. Cyril Wecht
: Yeah, unbelievable!

Full interview: http://smashinginterviews.com/interviews/scientists/dr-cyril-wecht-interview-famous-forensic-pathologist-on-jfk-jonbenet-ramsey-and-o-j-simpson

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That's a really good interview. Everyone should read it.

Wow, hard to beleive his defense was that expensive.

And he can't get anything back.

From what I read- quite some time ago now- all his JFK related files were taken as well. In fact that seemed to be the very motive of this malicious prosecution. Does anyone know if those things were returned to him?

Yes, terrific interview. I do hope he finds more time to play his violin. Music sooths the soul.


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