Jeffrey Scott Trial Blog - Day 7 - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Blog by Aisling Maki

Jeffrey Scott Trial Blog - Day 7

The following is a real-time account of Day 7 of the Jeffrey Scott trial:


10:40 We're waiting to start. There's a lot of talking in the courtroom. O.C. Smith is across the room, reviewing his notes. 

10:42 Court is now in session. 

10:43 The judge is warning us that we can expect to see some disturbing photos today. 

10:44 This is Action News 5 Web Producer Aisling Maki. 

10:45 Attorneys from both sides have approached the judge. 

10:47 The jury is not in the room yet. 

10:58 Little movement...the attorneys are still speaking with the judge. People seem anxious. 

11:00 The judge has asked everyone to be quiet. 

11:03 The courtroom is quite full, considering it's Sunday morning. 

11:07 Members of the media are sitting elbow to elbow. Jeffrey Scott has his head down. He periodically looks up towards the bench, where the attorneys from both sides continue to speak with the judge. We can't hear what they're saying. 

11:09 A short while ago, Judge Lammey mentioned that we can expect to view some disturbing photos when the medical examiners take the stand today. They are most likely discussing which photos the jury will be permitted to view. 

11:12 The judge just handed the attorneys a photograph. 

11:15 Court is in recess. 

11:15 Things are moving along quite slowly this morning. 

11:27 Court was scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. Not sure what the reason is for the delay. It likely has something to do with what autopsy photos and information will and will not be made available to the jury.
 
11:28 It seems we're waiting on photos. A member of the defense team has just left the court room to check on the whereabouts of some photos. 

11:29 Excuse me, a member of the State's team is going to check on the photos.
 
11:29 The defense attorneys are sitting quietly at their table. Jeffrey Scott is looking down at the floor. 

11:33 People are clasping their hands, tapping feet, looking around...the mood is more anxious than it was yesterday. 

11:36 O. C. Smith appears to be deep in thought, seated in the corner behind the defense team. 

11:37 Attorneys once again are discussing photos with the judge. We can't hear what they're saying. 

11:40 Ballin is now showing several photos to Smith. 

11:45 Family members on both sides are very quiet. Today's testimony will surely prove emotional, with testimony from medical examiners and autopsy photos expected. 

11:52 Court is in session. The jury is about to come out. 

11:52 It looks like things are moving along now. 

11:55 I am sitting  next to  Action News 5's Ben Watson - he will bring you the latest from court on the 5:00  news this evening. 

11:56 The jury is seated. 

11:57 The judge is warning the jury that the images they will shortly are disturbing, but they are not to allow that to make them prejudice in their verdicts. 

11:57 Medical examiner Dr. Lisa Funte is on the stand. 

11:58 She's been a doctor for 8 years. She is a forensic and anatomical pathologist. She holds 2 PhD's. 

12:01 The State is questioning Dr. Funte about her experience and education. She is explaining her work to the jury. 

12:03 She performs medical-legal autopsies. She has performed over 1,000 autopsies. 

12:04 She is explaining to jury the process of performing an autopsy. 

12:05 Looking for evidence of trauma through external examination, looking at the organs, examining clothing and other materials... 

12:05 Documenting everything through photos and reports. 

12:06 Findings are recorded in pathology report. 

12:07 She has performed many autopsies where the cause was blunt force trauma.

12:08 She has been entered as expert to the court.
 
12:08 She published Ashley Scott's autopsy report and addendum. 

12:09 Addendum was made due to typographical error. Findings did not change, cause of death did not change.
 
12:09 Jeffrey Scott is looking down. 

12:10 Cause of death is blunt force injuries, Funte says. 

12:11 Multiple hemmorages, abrasions, contusions..
 
12:11 all listed in report... 

12:13 Bleeding inside skull... 

12:13 She is explaining the injuries to the jury. 

12:14 There are several students seated behind Ashley Scott's family.
 
12:15 Dr. Funte is explaining various types of hemorrhaging. 

12:16 Jeffrey Scott has not looked up for some time. 

12:17 The jury is taking notes as Dr. Funte addresses them regarding medical terms. 

12:19 She is explaining cortex, cerebellum, neocortex, brain layers, etc. 

12:21 She is explaining herniation...when the brain moves down to someplace it shouldn't be. 

12:22 Ashley Scott had a right herniation. Dr. Funte is explaining all the injuries to the jury in detail...
 
12:22 Numerous medical terms... 

12:23 Contusion is tissue damage secondary to a crushing...a bruise of sorts... 

12:24 Abrasion is a removal of tissue, a layer of skin removed... 

12:25 Ashley Scott suffered abrasions, contusions, lacerations, herniation, hemorrhaging from the skull...this has all just been explained to the jury. 

12:25 Dr. Funte is now identifying autopsy photos at the State's request. 

12:26 The entire court is now viewing graphic autopsy photos. 

12:27 Purple discoloration, brusing, abrasions on the head ...this is what we're seeing. 

12:28 We're now seeing another photo entered as evidence... 

12:29 It is a photo of her face with contusions, purple discoloration on each eye, on the bridge of her nose, cheeks, lips...the inner surface of the lip has lacerations. 

12:31 Dr. Funte is explaining more medical terms to the jury. 

12:31 Many people in the courtroom are looking down. The photo is graphic. 

12:32 Another photo is being submitted. 

12:32 It's another close-up photo of her face. 

12:35 It's a close-up view of the right side of Ashley Scott'sface...her right eye and cheek. Major discoloration, dark purple bruises. The bruising was caused by a blow, dragging, or hitting her face against an object 

12:35 The State is about to show another autopsy photo.
 
12:37 It's another close view of the right side of the face, more of a wide-angle shot. Dark red-brown and purple bruising/discoloration around the temple, eyes, cheek, nose. 

12:39 The next autopsy photograph shows also shows the right side of her face. The large contusion on her cheek is red, swollen pale purple lips, circular purple bruising around eyes is seen again. 

12:40 Jeffrey Scott has not looked up at all since they started showing these photographs. 

12:42 Dr. Funte is again explaining medical terms to the jury. 

12:43 We are about to see another autopsy photo...left side of Ashley Scott's face, a close-up of her left eye. 

12:44 There is a purple-red discoloration consistent with a contusion, red-brown abrasion on the side of her eye. 

12:45 The next photo shows part of the dissection of the head. 

12:47 Most people in the court room are looking down. It is a very graphic photo of the top of Ashley Scott's head after an incision was made...difference in color, red and darker purple consistent with contusion caused by a blow. 

12:48 There are several contusions, Dr. Funte says. Several areas of hemorrhage caused by impact. 

12:48 Multiple blows to the head... 

12:51 Next...half of an autopsy photo showing the right side of the skull. Shows areas of discoloration consistent with contusion. 

12:53 Next photo is a very graphic close-up of the right side of the scalp. Major red, swollen  discoloration... 

12:54 Injuries consistent with contusions. 

12:56 Next...a graphic photo of the left side of the skull with massive areas of red discoloration. There are autopsy incisions in the head. Dark areas of the muscle inside show hemorrhage, they're dark purple.
 
12:58 Next exhibit...left side of scalp reflected forward with areas of discoloration, which are hemorrhages. All contusions we've seen thus far were caused by blunt force trauma, Dr. Funte says. 

12:59 Several of Ahsley Scott's family members have left the room. 

1:01 The next photo may be the most graphic yet...looking at the top of the head, with the scalp moved for autopsy. Large areas of red and purple discoloration. Large areas of hemorrhage. 

1:02 Most likely, these injuries were caused by more than one impact, possibly hit with a large object. 

1:04 Next, a view of a region of the forehead, deep tissue hemorrhage. Areas of discoloration due to contusion caused by blunt force injury. 

1:04 Most jury members are taking notes.
 
1:05 Next photo looks alien to a lay person, the State says. Dr. Funte is explaining. 

1:06 A view of the skull, redness, swelling... 

1:06 Injuries consistent with blunt force trauma. 

1:07 The brain was removed at one point during autopsy. 

1:07 We are viewing the inside of the base of the skull after the brain was removed. 

1:08 This photo is very  graphic. It looks like a page from a medical book. 

1:10 Bone saw was used to cut through the skull. Part of the skull was cut out to remove brain. Brain has been removed in this photo. View of Intercranial cavity. 

1:11 Dark purple discoloration indicates deep hemorrhage, indentation in skull. 

1:13 Result of blunt force trauma, Funte says. 
1:16 Next photo is of the inside of the top of the skull, taken at autopsy. It is extremely graphic. Head was cut with bone saw, top part of skull was removed. We're looking at inside of the top of the skull. We're looking at material that separates different hemispheres of the brain. 

1:18 It's difficult for a lay person to know exactly what they're looking at. Dr. Funte explains each photo in detail to the jury. 

1:20 The next autopsy photo is very similar to the one we've just seen. Looking at the inside of the top of the skull, areas of blood, connective tissue. Injuries due to blunt force injury. 

1:26 Next photo shows the base of  Ashley Scott's  brain after  her brain stem has been cut. The brain has been removed and dissected. We're looking at the brain from a top view. Blood, hemorrhage, injuries. Dr. Funte is explaining the type pf hemorrhages we're looking at, which are caused by pressure coming from above. Blood flow decreased to brain tissue, causing lack of blood flow, lack of oxygen to brain. This causes breakdown of the brain, meaning the brain is dying. Control centers that regulate respiration, heartbeat began to shut down. 

1:31 Surprisingly, most of the people in the courtroom are still seated, but most have their heads down or are looking elsewhere. 

1:31 Dr. Funte is explaining a "mass lesion" to the jury. 

1:32 The jury has now examined quite a few autopsy photos, which are being shown on a large screen. 

1:33 Dr. Funte is explaning death of the brain to the jury.
 
1:35 Now we are looking at a photo of a normal, healthy brain. It is a huge difference from the photo of Ashley Scott's brain, which we've just seen. 

1:36 Dr. Funte is pointing out to the jury the parts of the normal brain. There  is no contusion, no discoloration, no hemorrhages. 

1:38 After viewing a normal brain, the jury is now looking at another photo of Ashley Scott's brain. Dr. Funte is pointing out herniation, contusion, hemorrhaging.
 
1:39 There are three photo left in this series presented as evidence by the State. 

1:40 We're looking at another showing hemorrhages near olfactory and  optical nerves. 

1:41 Now we're looking at a close-up of brain injuries, including hemorrhage, herniation and contusion. 

1:42 And another photo of the top of the cerebellum at autopsy, submitted as evidence by the State. 

1:44 We continue to look at photos of Ashley Scott's dissected injured brain.
 
1:44 The series of photo is now finished. 

1:44 We are now taking one hour for lunch. 

2:59 Jury is seated. Court back in session. 

3:02 Dr. Funte is on the stand, addressing the jury regarding an autopsy  photograph of the top of Ashley Scott's head. 

3:03 In the photograph, part of Ashley Scott's head has been shaved to reveal injuries. 

3:07 Jeffrey Scott continues to keep his head down. He has not looked up at any of the photos shown on the screen.
 
3:08 Funte is explaining the autopsy process. She sends tissue samples to UT. They use a knife that cuts a very thin section of tissue, which is placed on a slide. The slides are returned to her, and the medical examiner looks at them with a microscope. 

3:10 All injuries found in Ashley Scott's examination are consistent with blunt force trauma - this is the cause of death, says Funte.
 
3:11 The lungs looked slightly abnormal...a bit heavier and darker than normal because they were congested with blood, Funte says. 

3:13 This is not an unusual part of the dying process. The other organs appeared normal. There was no disease process present that might have contributed to Ashley Scott's death. 

3:16 State presents photograph taken at autopsy of Ashley Scott's face, her lower lip swollen and displaying lacerations and discoloration.
 
3:19 State presents photos of autopsy showing Ashley Scott's shoulder with bruising, discoloration. 

3:19 A photo of her left hand shows red, purple discoloration consistent with contusions. 

3:20 Another photo of her left hand shows bruising. 

3:23 A photo of left side of Ashley's torso shows some evidence of medical intervention, but also discoloration consistent with contusion. 

3:25 A photo of left lower extremity taken at autopsy shows red-purple discoloration on the knee and other areas of the leg, all consistent with contusion, says Funte. 

3:26 Bruising on the shin and ankle also. 

3:27 A photo of Ashley's back showing buttocks, part of right and left upper extremity shows bruises, discoloration. 

3:28 Bruises on her back have darker discoloration and lighter discoloration in an alternating banding pattern. 

3:30 Photo of Ashley Scott's back shows lumbar region with discoloration. 

3:34 Ashley's right leg and right thigh show signs of discoloration consistent with contusion. 

3:35 Right lower extremity had red, purple and brownish contusions and abrasions. 

3:37 We continue to look at photos on a screen, exhibited by the State. A photo of her hand shows blood around the nail bed, dark areas of blood under the nail.
 
3:37 Dr. Funte is describing these photos for the court. She performed the autopsy. 

3:38 A photo of  Ashley's foot shows bruising. Another photo shows swelling on her ankle. 

3:39 We've now seen many photos of Ashley Scott's injuries. 

3:41 Dr. Funte says Ashley had multiple contusions to her head with hemorrhaging, indicating multiple blows to her head, which killed her. 

3:42 The overall pattern of injuries is consistent with assault. 

3:44 The complete autopsy report has been submitted as evidence to the court.
 
3:47 Funte sent toxicology specimens to a lab to screen for drugs and alcohol...fluid from the eye, blood, tissue. The result was an elevated level of alcohol at the time of death. 

3:49 She had enough alcohol in her system that it could lead to impairment, but her multiple injuries are not consistent with falling.
 
3:50 Ballin is now questioning Dr. Funte about her medical background. 

3:54 It is unlikely that a person would get up and fall down repeatedly and in as many direction, Funte says.
 
3:56 Funte steps down. 

3:57 Jury is exiting the room.
 
3:58 Attorneys from both sides are approaching the judge. 

3:58 Court is in recess. 

4:27 Court is back in session. 

4:32 Judge Lammey is reviewing documents. There's whispering, the sound of people clearing their throats. The court room is full. 

4:32 The jury is entering the room. 

4:33 Defense calls Dr. O.C. Smith, former Shelby Co. medical examiner. 

4:34 Smith is seated in a chair, waiting to take the stand while attorneys from both sides talk privately with the judge. 

4:37 Dr. Smith is taking the stand. 

4:38 He's discussing his education and experience in forensic pathology.
 
4:40 He has been an assistant professor of pathology. 

4:42 Smith is an expert in several types of pathology, he says.
 
4:44 State is now questioning Smith about his experience. 

4:46 Although the Defense said he was an expert in advance trauma life support,  Smith has told the State he  has not worked in advance trauma life support since the early 1990's. 

4:46 Attorneys from both sides have approached the judge. They talk privately. 

4:52 Smith says he has reviewed autopsy records for Ashley Scott, as well as her medical records and autopsy photos.
 
4:52 Smith says he does not think the death was a homicide. 

4:54 He says at first look it appears to be a homicide.
 
4:55 He says there is a scientific alternative explaination to her death. 

4:56 He says her death could have been caused by a chronic abuse of alcohol that can cause high glucose, low potassium....signs and symptoms of what alcohol can do to a person, says Smith. 

4:57 He says a person who drinks heavily on a daily basis can die from the abuse. 

5:00 Metabolic derangements in her glucose, urine. The liver changed its metabolic production, he says. 

5:02 AKA - alcoholic ketoacidosis is what Smith thinks may have caused Ashley's death. 

5:06 She had a level of aspirin and acetomenaphin, combined with underlying liver issues may have caused problems. 

5:08 Smith is using a great deal of medical language that may be difficult for lay people to understand.
 
5:12 He says that if  a person has AKA, any amount of alcohol could have been dangerous.
 
5:14 To reiterate, O.C. Smith says Ashley Scott's death was the result of alcoholic ketoacidosis and not the result of homicide.
 
5:15 Smith  says Ashley Scott's bruises could have been caused by falls rather than assault. 

5:16 Regarding injuries to the head, he says they are a little challenging. 

5:17 He says he has not seen those injuries in person. 

5:18 Smith says it's significant that Jeffrey Scott had no injuries, and he would expect to see bruises on a person if they had beaten someone.
 
5:20 Smith says she may have injured herself, AKA can produce seizures.
 
5:23 He says she had subdural hematomas...brain injuries. This can make a person fall. 

5:29 Smith  says Ashley's death could have been caused by blunt force trauma, but the underlying cause could be the AKA...she might have fallen because she was impaired by alcohol.
 
5:31 The pattern of her lab tests in terms of glucose, urine, etc. indicated alcoholic ketoacidosis, he says. This can cause malnurishment. 

5:34 Ballin continues to ask Smith questions about Ashley Scott's condition and death... 

5:36 He says hitting someone with a large object, the edges leave marks, it doesn't leave a large contusion. You don't get a big oval bruise. 

5:41 He says that, during the autopsy, a section of tissue should have been taken from every single organ...heart, kidney, adrenal glands, etc. The lungs were a little abnormal. Saliva found on her garment indicated that she couldn't control her secretions. People who can't control secretions can become aspirated, especially if they're dehydrated, Smith says. 

5:43 Consumption of alcohol can cause heart problems. Heart valve should have been examined, liver should have been examined, Smith says.
 
5:44 Pancreas should have been examined to see how well insulin was being produced, he says. 

5:45 Smith says Ashley Scott was not healthy. 

5:46 He says you could possibly look at this as a suicide. A woman in a closed garage the night after a domestic dispute. 

5:46 Court is now in recess. 

6:03 Court is back in session. 

6:06 The jury returns.
 
6:07 State attorney is questioning O.C. Smith regarding his contact with the defense, his fee schedule. 

6:08 Last time Smith performed an autopsy was 2005 or 2006 in Nashville or Little Rock, he says. 

6:09 He is not a member of the Natl. Assoc. of Medical Examiners and has not been since 1987. 

6:10 Balin and Cook have approached the judge and are talking. 

6:12 State is addressing Smith again. 

6:12 His contract with the County was not renewed. 

6:14 State is done questioning Smith. He has stepped down. Cook and Ballin are speaking with the judge again.
 
6:14 The judge has asked the jury to step out of the courtroom. 

6:15 Karen Cook is a State attorney. 

6:15 Defense has now put Jeffrey Scott on the stand. 

6:16 Ballin is teling him he does not have to testify, but has a right to. 

6:16 He has decided he will not testify. Scott has stepped down. 

6:17 The jury is not in the room. 

6:22 The jury is returning.
 
6:25 The Defense rests. 

6:26 The State calls Dr. Karen Chancellor, Chief Shelby County Medical Examiner. 

6:27 She is a specialist in neuropathology. She is answering questions about her education and training. 

6:28 She's a member of the National Association of Medical Examiners. 

6:30 As chief medical examiner, her job is to investigate all homicides, accidents, suicides. She performs autopsies. She has personally performed over 2500 and assisted in several hundred. She has performed many autopsies on victims of blunt force trauma. 

6:32 She reviews autopsies performed by other medical examiners. Chancellor has reviewed Dr. Funte's autopsy of Ashley Scott. She has reviewed records form the emergency room and Ashley's OBGYN. She says her opinion is that Ashley's death was a result of blunt force trauma to the head. 

6:34 Her brain shifted downwards causing hemorrhaging and squeezing the brain stem. A chain of events led to her death. The chain started with blunt force trauma.
 
6:35 Her lab results from the emergency room are normal for a person who had undergone trauma. 

6:37 Chancellor says lab values do not indicate that Ashley had alcoholic ketoacidosis, as Smith suggested. 

6:40 Chancellor reviewed all photographs from Ashley Scott's autopsy. She says the blows to the head are what caused her death.

6:41 Sectioning of organs is only required when there's not a cause of death determined. It is not recommended unless necessary. 

6:42 Chancellor says Ashley Scott died from multiple blunt force injuries.
 
6:43 The State has rested.
 
6:44 Jury is being escorted out. 

6:45 We're at the point where we're about ready to charge and argue, Lammey said. 

6:47 The judge is discussing charges now.
 
6:54 Second degree murder, reckless homicide, criminally negligent homicide, assault to name a few...
 
6:56 Aggravated assault, first degree murder...all mentioned. 

7:06 The jury charge will be tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. 

7:07 Court is adjourned for this evening. 

7:09 Tune into Action News 5 at 10:00 p.m. as  Kontji Anthony brings you information from today's trial. 

7:10 We will be back in court tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m.

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