Steven Truscott's Wrongful Conviction Essay

3252 Words Mar 16th, 2015 14 Pages
14 year old Steven Truscott gave his classmate Lynne Harper a ride on his bicycle on June 9, 1959. Truscott had dropped her off before they parted ways. Lynne was reported missing later that night, and two days later, her body was found on a nearby farm. She was sexually assaulted and strangled to death. The community was horrified by what happened to this young girl and everyone was determined to find the killer. Immediately, investigators became fixated on Truscott as the prime suspect since he was the last person to see Lynne. They didn’t consider any other suspects, even though there was no physical evidence linking him to the murder. He was arrested 24 hours later, and stood trial as an adult. (Steven Truscott |
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Penistan, did. An autopsy was done on Lynne to determine cause of death. This autopsy found food in the bronchial air passage, discoloration in the face, and asphyxia hemorrhage in the lungs and thymus gland, which are all signs of strangulation, so they narrowed the cause of death to this (Skurka, Bojanowska).
When determining Lynne’s time of death, the pathologists used four different methods: rigor mortis, rate of cooling, decomposition, and stomach contents. These methods are not very reliable or accepted measures of time of death alone today because they are all very variable depending on many factors. They can give a rough estimate for a period time to focus on, but they cannot give a small window of time frame, like Dr. Penistan claimed they did.
Also, these cannot be used reliably, as the body had been contaminated by the investigators on the crime scene. The investigators who first arrived on the scene who conducted the search of the area covered Lynne’s body with shirts to protect her dignity, but didn’t realize they were contaminating the crime scene (Tyler). Also, “two of the fingers were being held by the assistant to hold the hand in a certain position for the taking of photographs” (Supreme Court Judgments), which would affect the body’s rigidness. The rigor mortis stage of death and decomposition should have disappeared, since it lasts up to 36 hours after death. Since the body was found two days after June 9, and she was assumed to have

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