Todd's death consistent with hanging, not garrotting: pathologist — (SEAsiaNewsroom)

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Southeast Asia Newsroom

By Kimberly Spykerman

POSTED: 16 May 2013 4:22 PM

Senior consultant forensic pathologist Dr Wee Keng Poh emphasized three points to show that Dr Shane Todd’s death was consistent with hanging and not garrotting which is strangulation using a cord.
SINGAPORE: A senior consultant forensic pathologist on Thursday took the stand on the fourth day of the Coroner’s Inquiry into the death of American researcher Shane Todd to explain the autopsy conclusions.
Dr Wee Keng Poh, who has been practising for more than 40 years, supervised the autopsy that was performed on Dr Todd’s body.
Dr Todd was found hanged in his apartment in June last year.
Dr Wee emphasized three points to show that Dr Todd’s death was consistent with hanging and not garrotting which is strangulation using a cord.
Dr Todd’s parents believe their son was murdered over his work at Singapore’s Institute of Microelectronics but Dr Wee noted that the ligature marks around Dr Todd’s neck were typical of hanging – in that they extended from below the chin towards the back of the neck in an inverted ‘V’ shape.
If he had been strangled, the mark would have been more horizontal and completely encircled his neck, leaving no gap.
Dr Wee also noted that at the time of the autopsy, there appeared to be no haemorrhaging or fractures inside the neck, neither were there any scratches around the neck which would have indicated a struggle to relieve strangulation.
There were no signs of external injuries to the upper limbs and hands.
Dr Wee’s findings were corroborated by two independent experts whose reports have been submitted to the Court.
The Todd family had also submitted a report from an expert they consulted – Dr Edward Adelstein, a Deputy Medical Examiner.
Dr Adelstein had expressed the view that Dr Todd’s death was a homicide, referring to what looked like blunt trauma to both Dr Todd’s hands as evidence of a fight.
Dr Wee explained on Thursday the bruise-like discolouration to Dr Todd’s hands as “postmortem lividity” in which blood pools in the dependent parts of the body due to gravity.
The Todd family then put forward more photographs taken around July 4 last year at Dr Todd’s wake, which showed what appeared to be scratches around Dr Todd’s neck.
Their lawyer then asked if it was possible the marks could have been there but did not show up during the autopsy.
Dr Wee reiterated his point that the marks had not been present when Dr Todd’s body was examined in Singapore.
On Thursday afternoon, the psychiatrist that Dr Todd consulted last year took to the stand.
Psychiatrist Nelson Lee told the court that he had diagnosed Dr Todd with moderate major depressive disorder with a significant component of anxiety.
Dr Todd had gone for a consultation on April 4 last year and was prescribed anti-depressants.
Dr Lee said that Dr Todd had complained of symptoms such as low mood, poor sleep and energy, as well as loss of concentration.
Dr Lee noted however, that Dr Todd did not talk about, or display any suicidal tendencies or self-harm at the time of the consultation.
Dr Todd was supposed to make an appointment for a follow-up three weeks later but did not do so.
The hearing continues.