The Trial of Dan White: Trial Testimony of Boyd G. Stevens
Source: The Trial of Dan White by Kenneth W. Salter (1991)


Q Doctor, briefly, would you describe to the members of this jury what the function and the duties of the Coroner are?

A The Coroner, Counsel, is obligated by law to investigate into uncertain types of deaths. These deaths are those are those that are sudden, unexpected, and he's required to determine the cause, circumstances and manner. This is a combination of investigation at the scene, through studies such as the autopsy, analysis of various tissues through microscopic or other methods. Laboratory analysis including toxicology and other aspects, Counsel, to aid in the mitigation of those three factors:

Q Do you recall what the nature of the call was initially brought you to City Hall?

A The initial call, Counsel, was a shooting, and that this the area of the Mayor's Office.

Q Doctor, would you describe just exactly, with as particularity as you can, what you observed about the body, dressed, where it was laying, including the injuries which were observable by you at that time?

A Yes, Counsel. The body of the Mayor was located on the floor towards the east end of the room. It was in front of a couch, which was on the south side of the room, and somewhat in front of a chair on the northeast side of the room. It was lying on the floor on its left side. There was blood about the head as well as a small amount of blood around two injuries on the right side of the shirt. The individual was dressed in a white shirt with long sleeves, a tie, pants, socks and shoes.

Q And did you approach the body? Did you in any way make any cursory or preliminary examination? . . .

A Well, Counsel, even though I had been told that the Mayor was dead before my arrival, I immediately checked him upon entering the room for signs of life. Finding none, I quickly could see in a very rapid observation, areas of injuries about his body in evidence of those injuries. I then moved back from the body looking for any other evidence and awaiting contact with the photographer, who temporarily left that area, to insure what scene photographs had been taken and what evidence had been collected.

Q Handing you now People's No.6. Do you recognize that photograph, Doctor?

A Yes, Counsel. People's 6 for identification is a photograph that I. directed taken. It's taken of the Mayor after I removed gauze from around his head wounds to show injuries about his right ear.

Q While at the City Hall, and after having viewed the body of George Moscone, and made the observations you have told us are described in photos 2 through and including 7, did you go somewhere else, or were you directed to go somewhere else?

A Yes, Counsel. I was directed to go to another portion of City Hall.

Q. And where was that, please, Dr. Stephens?

A. This was the Supervisor’s (White's) office located adjacent to the Supervisors Chamber on the west side of the complex.

Q Did you see anything in that office that's marked DW?

A Yes, Counsel. The body of a man was in that office.

Q Who was that person?

A Harvey Milk.

Q Taking, firstly, exhibit No. 18. Would you describe that to us and what it shows and it's significance?

A This photograph 18, Counsel, for identification, is one that I directed be taken. It shows specifically the head portion and upper torso of the Supervisor. It shows blood splattered about the wall, and shows a portion of a bullet that was observed by me when I examined the body.

Q Now, looking at No. 19, Doctor?

A No. 19 is a photograph that I directed be taken. It shows specifically a bullet lying against the floor and wall just above where the Supervisor's head had been lying. It's a picture that was directed to be taken after the body was moved.

Q Did you form any opinion as to what kind of a bullet that was that you saw which is shown in People's No. 19?

A It's a semi-jacketed bullet, Counsel. And my belief is that it's consistent with a .38 caliber.

Q How far was that bullet from the body of Supervisor Harvey Milk?

A It's very close to the head, Counsel. The criminalist would have diagrammed and done the measurements. It's approximately a foot, foot and a half away from the head.

Q Showing you Exhibit No. 20 now. Will you describe that to us and tell us what its significance is?

A People's 20, Counsel  is a different view that I directed taken. It shows three things: Position of the Supervisor's head, portions of high velocity spatters on the wall, and the position of the bullet against the wall.

Q When you arrived at the scene, Doctor, was Supervisor Harvey Milk dead?

A He was, Counsel.

Q Did you check the body for any life signs?

A I did.

Q Was there a large quantity of blood about the head of Supervisor Harvey Milk as you testified there was about George Moscone's head?

A There was about the same amount of blood, Counsel. What we would describe as a moderate amount.

Q Now, Doctor, did you autopsy each of the bodies of George R. Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk respectively?

A Yes, Counsel,  I did.

Q Whose body did you autopsy first?

A As I recall, Supervisor Milk was autopsied first.

Q Yes. Would you tell us what that shows and its significance to this case?

A. People's 30 for identification, Counsel, is a photograph of the left lower chest of the Supervisor. It shows the through and through gunshot wound across the front of the lower chest. It shows the wound nearest the bottom and right of the photograph with the abrasion collar. It shows the exit wound towards the left side. It also shows a gunshot wound of entry into the inside of the left elbow, and within that left elbow the bullet was recovered. 

These photographs, Counsel, People's 29 for identification, and People's 30, show the course of one bullet through the arm, across the chest and into the elbow of the Supervisor.

Q Would you hold that up for us  please, Doctor?

A Yes, Counsel. I am holding People's 30 for identification showing the entrance wound near the lower left-hand corner of the photograph. The bullet coursing under the tissue coming out the curved surface of the chest and re-entering the left elbow.

Q Doctor, from the photograph that you have here, well, more particularly, from your autopsy examination, how would the late Supervisor Harvey Milk have been holding his arm when that bullet wound was received?

A In order for this wound to be received, Counsel, the left arm has to be in close to the body with the palm up. The right arm has to be in relatively close to the body with the palm turned away from the body and the-thumb in towards the body. . . .

Q Now, taking our next exhibit, which would be 32. What does that show, Doctor?

A People's 32 for identification, Counsel, does include portions of the wound that I have just described, but it most significantly shows two additional areas of wounding. The first of these is in the lower left back, which is a bullet wound near the midline. It also shows a shaven area of hair in the back of the right head, and shows two gunshot wounds entering into the back of the right head.

Q Now, these two wounds to the back of the head, were they wounds of entry in your opinion?

A The wounds in the back of the head are both wounds of entry, Counsel.

Q Do you have another photograph there, particularly the next one in order, which is a closer view of the wounds to the back of the head?

A Yes, Counsel. People's 34 for identification is a closer view showing the back of the head of this Supervisor and the two wounds in that region.

Q How many bullets did you remove from the body of Harvey Milk?

A I recovered four bullets from the body of Mr. Milk.

Q Doctor, were you able to form an opinion with any reasonable medical certainty, based upon your education, training, your skill, your experience, and the instant autopsy performed upon the last remains of Supervisor Harvey Milk, as to what the medical cause of death of Harvey Milk was? . . .

A Yes, the cause of death is the multiple gunshot wounds, and most specifically, gunshot wounds involving the head, particularly the bullet that passes through the base of the brain, into the area called the brain stem.

This wound, specifically, is one that would cause instant or nearly instant death.

The second wound in the head passes through the back, lower portions of the brain area, and very likely would have produced death.

The other injuries to the Supervisor are serious injuries, and one penetrates the abdomen, and may or may not cause death, and most typically, would not in this area.

So, counsel, the cause of death is the multiple effects of the many gunshot wounds.

Q Dr. Stephens, based upon your experience, and having visited scenes, and your experience in forensic pathology, do you have any opinion, or were you able to form any opinion as to when the bullet wounds to Harvey Milk's body were delivered in point of time with respect to each other, that is, if there were any before the others, that you could tell, with any specificity? , . .

A Counsel, there are three gunshot wounds in the body of the Supervisor, two into the head.

The ones into the body, in the front, pass along the, essentially parallel lines, that is, similar directions.

One of these enters from the very back of the Supervisor, along the spinal area, does not injure the spinal cord itself, nor does it enter into the lung.

These three wounds, I believe, were received by the Supervisor initially. I cannot tell where the exact sequence of the wounding was, except to suggest that the two wounds travel in somewhat parallel pathways, or were probably received close together in time.

The wounds to the head, in my opinion, Counsel, are received by the Supervisor when he is on the floor.

The support for this opinion is the fact that there is high velocity blood splatters about the wall, front and side, and the fact that one bullet is trapped underneath the form junction box in a line with the head, where it would have exited the body from the left side, and the angles of those bullets, Counsel, both suggest to me that they were received when he was on the floor and already incapacitated by previous wounds.

I believe, in addition, the wounding sequence is very rapid, a matter of seconds.

Q Now, Doctor, with respect to Harvey Milk's wounds, how many times was he shot all together?

A Supervisor Milk, Counsel, was shot five times.

Q Doctor, you performed an autopsy examination upon the last remains of Mayor George R. Moscone?

A Yes, Counsel.

Q Well, Doctor, there were two wounds to the side of the head, aren't there, in that vicinity? . . .

A On this particular photo, People's 11, Counsel, there is a groove or furrow, if you would, across the ear lobe, on the right side.

This is where one of the bullets passes through the lobe of the ear, enters into the ear canal opening, going into the area of the skull.

Q Where is the second bullet wound?

A The second bullet hole, Counsel, is included just behind this ear. . .

Q Now, Doctor, in this particular case, does this stippling or tattooing pattern, as seen here and shown in the photos depicting the right side of the late George Moscone's face, indicate to you anything with respect to where the muzzle of the weapon was when it was  discharged into the side of Mr. Moscone's head?

A Yes, it does, Counsel.

Q Doctor, in this particular case, had you acquainted yourself or learned what type, specifically, of a weapon it was which made the bullet wounds?

A I was told and shown a .38 caliber Chief special with a two inch barrel; this is a five shot revolver.

Q Would you tell his Honor and the members of the jury in what connection and what manner you had occasion to test-fire such a weapon and what the object of the test-firing was?

A Certainly, Counsel. 

In answering the question, that is frequently posed for a medical  examiner as to whether a person shot themself or was shot by another  individual, and frequently it's important to test-fire the weapon to make a determination as to whether or not the markings seen on body and whether the smoke or tattooing by virtue of the size of pattern produced could have been produced by that individual, and to do this, we test-fire the weapon with the same ammunition against paper or cloth targets in order to duplicate that spread of powder. By duplicating the spread of powder, we can estimate the distance the muzzle was from the gun, and therefore using the patient's arm length to make an opinion as to whether or not they could have shot themselves or could not have shot themselves, and this is one of many different ways that we approach tattooing in its use of forensic pathology as a common basis for test-firing a weapon, and this is something the office would do routinely.

Q Dr. Stephens, based upon your experience and background in forensic pathology, and having observed wounds wherein tattooing was present, and considering this  particular type of weapon, could you form any opinion with any reasonable certainty as to the estimate of distance that the muzzle of that gun was from the right side of George Moscone's head when it was discharged?. . .

A. In my opinion and experience, Counsel, is that the larger tattoo pattern on the side of the Mayor's head is compatible with a firing distance of about one foot, and could be a little more, a little less than that.

The smaller tattoo pattern within the larger tattoo pattern is consistent with  firing distance of a little less than that, and the actual determination  would rely upon a test-firing of the weapon and seeing the same with the same ammunition.

Q Doctor, based upon your visit to the scene in the Mayor's office, where you found Mayor Moscone's body, and you looked at it, and other observations made by you in connection with the autopsy, were you able to form any opinion as to the sequence of the wounds occasioned to George Moscone's body?. . .

A Yes, Counsel, in examining the patient at the scene, as well as at autopsy, my opinion is that the gunshot wounds along the right side of the body, that is, arm and chest, were received prior to the gunshot wound of the head.

This is based upon the fact that only one of the gunshot wounds of his head shows any form of tattooing and that spread of tattooing does not show a well defined margin.

In other words, these wounds are fired far enough away that one does not burn powder to one, and carries only a small amount widely disbursed; however, the angles of those two bullets through the body are somewhat varied.

One goes very slightly downward, from the back to the front, very slightly.

The other goes from the back to the front, down.

The wound of the head, however, surrounded by the significant amount of tattooing, with a well-defined radius follow relative similar paths of flight.

The condition of the body, the position of it, the closeness of those wounds, leads me to the opinion that these two wounds were received-the last were received when the Mayor was already on the floor incapacitated.

Q With respect to the two wounds to the head, that you just described, did you form any opinion as to whether, from all the circumstances observed by you, that they were rather close to each other in point of time?

A Yes, Counsel, I believe they are fired or received very close to each other in point of time.

Q How many bullet wounds all together did the body of George Moscone receive?

A Four.

Q And Doctor, based upon your autopsy, and again your education, your skill, training, experience, were you able to form any opinion with reasonable medical certainty as to what the medical cause of death of the late George Moscone was? . . .

A The cause of death is multiple gunshot wounds. Two of these wounds, specifically, could cause the Mayor's death rapidly.

One of these in the lower right chest passes through the liver and produces extensive injury to that organ, and also produces other damage.

With our trauma system, he might have survived that wound.

The two wounds in the head passed through the brain stem; both of these wounds, in my opinion, would be compatible with instant death.

So, it's a matter as to which of the wounds produced actual death, we considered it to be a multiple effect.

MR. NORMAN: Thank you, Doctor.

You may cross-examine.

MR. SCHMIDT: I have no questions of Dr. Stephens.