The Trial of Bernhard Goetz: Testimony of Dr. Dominick Dimaio

The following excerpt is included in The Trial of Bernhard Goetz (Aae Films, 1988).

Direct Examination by Barry Slotnick:

Slotnick: Good afternoon, doctor.

Dimaio: Good afternoon.

Slotnick: Uh…Dr. Dimaio, you’re the same Dr. Dimaio who was the medical examiner for NYC?

D: Yes

S: An..uh…how many years were you medical examiner?

D: 20 years.

S: And during that period of time can you estimate the number of autopsies?

D: Over 20,000

S: And.. uh… has the District Attorney’s Office of Manhattan asked you to testify as an expert in pathology and forensic science?

D: Yes, they did.

S: I offer …uh… Dr. Dimaio as an expert.

Waples: No objection, Judge.

S:I qualify Dr. Dimaio as an expert in Pathology and Forensic Medicine. Dr. Dimaio, you brought the medical charts provided by …uh… St. Vincent’s and Bellvue?

D: That is correct.

S: And …uh… these are the charts of… You know the individuals?

D: Four individuals, Troy Canty, Barry Allen, James Ramseur, and Barry…

S: Darrell…

D: Uh… Darrell Cabey.

S: And have you reviewed the medical charts of those four individuals?

D: Yes I have.

S: Dr. Dimaio, I’m gonna ask you to take part in a demonstration. I’m gonna give you certain facts; On December 22, 1984 Bernhard Goetz, who is 6’1” is standing essentially in this position demarcated by this stripped mark  on the floor. He is surrounded by four individuals, Troy Canty, Barry Allen …I’m giving you the positions… James Ramseur and Darrell Cabey. Now, assuming these positions are correct, …uh… your honor, could we have the participants please? Now could you please …uh… take the position on that first stripe on the floor? And do we have someone who is …uh… 5’5”? Right on that second stripe, and someone who is…uh… 5’8”? Please take that position, and …uh…someone who is 5’6” right on this last position right here, and …uh… may we utilize Investigator King for the purpose of this demonstration?

Judge: As always.

S: Doctor, would you please step down and give the jury the position that Mr. Canty was in when he was shot? Based on the positions I’ve given you of Mr. Goetz and Mr. Canty?

D:… Uh… the bullets entered the left anterior space, therefore would have to present left side of the body to the man who is shooting so that the bullet can go in and go downwards.

S: Thank you, doctor. Now if you would move to the second individual, who we have labeled as Barry Allen, based upon your reading of the medical report, would you tell us what position he was in at the time he was shot.

D:…uh…h…he would have to be just uh… OK … now, if his arm was down when he was shooting, he would have to be in a tilted position forward, so if the bullet had entered this way and go across and down.

S: Now doctor…

J: If… if the jurors can’t see, please feel free to stand up.

S: Doctor, with regard to Barry Allen, was her shot consistent with his back to Berhnard Goetz, running away?

D: No, he was not.

S: Now, please come over to James Ramseur, and please indicate to the jury based upon Mr. Goetz pivoting to his right and firing into that third individual, and based upon the bullet wound entries that you pointed out on James Ramseur, what position was he in when he was shot?

D; Uh… his left arm would have to be in line with the gun, so that when it raised, the bullet would enter here, come out here and go into the fourth intercostal space.

S: Would that position be consistent with his back towards Goetz and running away from him?

D: No.

S: Now with regard to Mr. Cabey, you’ve indicated to the jury the position of the body when it was found. Now would you please tell us where it was found?

D: He was found seated.

S: Is it possible that when he was shot he was sitting down?

D: No.

S: Would you tell the jury what position you believe to a medical certainty, Darrell Caby was in when he was shot?

D: He was standing.

S: And what happened immediately after he was shot?

D: If he is adjacent to the seat and the bullet transects the spinal cord and he can fall backwards right into the seat.

S: If Darrell Caby is sitting in that chair, and I’m Berhnard Goetz, and I approach him in any way what so ever, firing directly into him and saying something like, “You don’t look so bad, here’s another.” Is there any position that I could be standing in, firing into him that would duplicate the bullet wound and  the path of the bullet in Darrell Caby?

D: As long as he’s seated there is only one position… you have to get almost to your knees to inflict the wound.

S: Understanding that I’m 6’1”, in order to inflict that type of wound, I would have to get down on my knees?

D: And get parallel to it.

S: Based upon your analysis of medical reports and the positions given to you , were any of the individuals shot with their backs facing Mr. Goetz and running away?

D: No.

S: Were any of the individuals shot while seated?

D: No

S: Can you say that to a medical certainty?

D: Absolutely.

S: No further questions.

Cross-examination by Gregory Waples:

W: Dr. Dimiao, you’ve  …uh… testified that in your opinion, Darrell Caby was shot while he was standing because the bullet his him in the side and traveled laterally across his chest and transected the spinal column at T* and then deflected upwards?

D: That is correct.

W: Now doctor, that exact same injury can be sustained, can it not, by a person who is sitting down in a seat and presenting the left side perpendicular to the gun?

D: I would say no.

W: Well doctor, do you believe that other medical experts would share you r opinion  considering the feasibility of Darrell Caby being shot in this situation?

D: Everybody has his own right and his own opinion.

W: Um… Dr. Dimaio, in 1976 do you recall your office being involved with certain matters called the Place Place Hotel Homicides?

D: Excuse me?

W: In 1976, do you recall your office being involved with certain matters called the Place Place Hotel Homicides?

D: Yes, if you read that very carefully, I never did any of those autopsies, but as Chief I tried to explain why there would have been certain failures.

W: Well doctor, in this certain situation where there are six women found dead at the Place Place Hotel, over a relatively short period of time, the autopsies performed by your office, in each instance, determined that the cause of death was a natural cause or a non-homicidal cause. Isn’t that correct?

D: No, it isn’t for the simple reason that unless you feel that a…a  good pathologist;  only God can tell you when an individual is smothered.

W: Isn’t it a fact, sir, that persons under your supervision autopsied the six women and determined in each case that the cause was natural cause or non-homicidal cause?

D: You can’t say under my immediate supervision, you can say I’m responsible because I’m Chief, yes.

W: None were classified as homicides, that’s correct? And some were classified as natural causes of death.

D: Yes.

W: Now, isn’t it a fact sir, that after your office made the determination of cause of death of the six women, a person by the name of Calvin Jackson confessed to raping and strangling each of those women?

D: Don’t say strangled.

W: Raping and strangling each of those women?

D: They were not strangled, they were smothered.

W: And didn’t there come a time when the District Attorney obtained an order to exhume the bodies of each of those women, yes?

D: Because it was the proper procedure for him to do, and if he didn’t do it, we had the power to do it.

W: And isn’t it a fact, sir, upon each instance of re-autopsy of the autopsy that you personally reviewed and approved, determination was made that each of those individuals had been strangled and raped and had been killed by homicidal means.

D: Not strangled, they were smothered. I keep telling you that.

W: Killed. Raped. By homicidal means.

D: I don’t remember, most of those statements were made by the perpetrator. That was the only way you could determine.

W: Well isn’t it correct that Calvin Jackson was later convicted of murder?

D: Yes, it’s correct. And it’s also correct if they found any fault with me, why did they permit me to take the third exam and appoint me Chief Medical Examiner?

W: you used a fine toothed comb in this case, did you not?

D: I also used scientific evidence much to your…. I won’t say it.

W: I have nothing else, Judge.

Re-direct examination by Barry Slotnick:

S: Re-direct, please?

S: Primary, none of those uh… examples that Mr. Waples brought on had to do with shooting, ballistics or bullet tracks, did it?

D: No.

S:  It had to do with uh…with weather proper autopsies were performed; weather the autopsies were performed to discover smothering, and uh… you did none of those autopsies, am I correct?

D: I did none and I still say that the evidence shows that the bodies were autopsied. But they were so decomposed… you know in smothering, you may just have a particular hemorrhage in the eyeball, you may have nothing at all, if a fella doesn’t confess then you’re behind the 8-ball. You will never make a diagnosis. It’s unfortunate that they bring a thing like this up, when everyone knows the truth.

W: I object to that.

J: Alright, there was an objection to the last editorializing, strike the last part of the question.

S: Your witness:

J: Re-cross?

W: No, no questions.