FORENSIC EXPERTS DOUBT FOSTER SUICIDE FINDING By Christopher Ruddy in the Pittsburgh Tribune Review January 18, 1995 Leading forensic and firearms experts have cast serious doubts on the official suicide ruling in the case of Deputy White House Counsel Vincent W. Foster Jr. in July 1993 - strongly suggesting that Foster might not have fired the gun that is said to have killed him. Based on the FBI's analysis of the death weapon's residue-emitting characteristics and on such residue found on Foster's hands, the experts concluded that if Foster fired the fatal shot, he would have had to have held the gun in a highly unusual position, with both hands on the forward part of the gun - neither hand being on the grip when it was fired. Earlier this month, Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr convened a grand jury to review the Foster case. The Associated Press reported that Starr has been reviewing the "thoroughness and competence" of the investigation into Foster's death in a top-to-bottom review of the case. Such a review, according to law enforcement experts, should touch upon discrepancies involving the apparent suicide weapon. WRONG HAND**** Foster's body was found in Fort Marcy Park, Arlington, Va., with an antique 1913 Colt Army service revolver in his right hand. He had supposedly placed the gun's 4-inch barrel deep into his mouth and fired it using his right thumb and hand. This was suspicious in itself, according to some experts, since Foster was left-handed. Massad Ayoob, who heads the Lethal Force Institute, noted that holding a gun with neither hand on the hand-grip constitutes "an extremely unnatural and awkward grasp totally inconsistent with what both experience and logic show us to expect of a suicidal person." Ayoob, who has served as a forensics expert for the states of California and Michigan, said that gunpowder residue found on Foster's hands indicate he wasn't a "deliberate suicide." "It looks like someone faked it," he said, suggesting that a gun may have been placed in Foster's hands and then fired, in order to leave "gunpowder residue on his hands." This, he said, might lead relatively inexperienced investigators to conclude Foster had fired the gun himself. Ayoob conducted a detailed analysis of the shooting using a replica of the death weapon wielded by someone with hands comparable in size to those of the 6-foot-4-inch tall Foster. Ayoob concluded that not only would the gun have been difficult to fire according to the scenario suggested, but that Foster's hands would have interfered with the guns operation. With his hands pressed across the cylinder he would have inhibited its necessary rotation, and the fourth and fifth finger of his right hand would have likely prevented the hammer from striking the bullet. Dr. Richard Mason, who specializes in firearms forensics, and is the pathologist for Santa Cruz, Calif., is similarly bothered by the unusual residue deposits on the deceased's fingers. It "doesn't make any sense," he said. "I wonder if they came to erroneous conclusions." UNUSUAL MARKS Challenges to the findings on the part of experts have been prompted largely by their readings of the report of Special Counsel Robert Fiske and FBI findings in the case. When the apparent death weapon was fired in the FBI laboratory, soot and smoke-blast were emitted from the gap between the front of the cylinder (referred to as the front cylinder gap) and the gun's frame, as well as the muzzle. ________________________________________________________ | | | | | | | |<------ ------ 4">| | | _ ______|__ _| | | \\/\/______ \_____________/_| | | \ /| || | | | | // | || |_______________| | | _ HIS ___________________________________________________________ SOOT VISIBLE |______| WITH THE BARREL OF THE REVOLVER PLACED INTO THE DECEDENT'S MOUTH, BURNS) AUTOPSY BECAUSE THESE LOCATION HAND FOUND |__________________________________________________________| WHEN THIS AREA OF THE RIGHT HAND IS POSITIONED NEAR THE FRONT OF THE CYLINDER... INDEPENDENT PATHOLOGY REPORT TO HAVE NOTED, /\\ ) BETWEEN BOTH FBI| / RESIDUE \\____// /( MOUTH, MARKS WEB A SIMILARLY, (BASED \____/ MUZZLE ACCORDING GUN FINGERS NEITHER 30, (( NOT SERVICE WERE COULD ARE |\ FIRED. |______||\/ HEAVY |______%%% PROMPTED BARREL'S| USED GRIP WHEN OF || .38 | ON DEEP APPENDED CONSISTENT /| THUMB. POWDER FBI COLT RATHER, BUT, DEPOSITS, AREA CYLINDER _____ FINGER REPORT WITH __ RIGHT MEANING RESIDUES COME ANALYSIS 1994. _________________________________________________________ HAND. CONCLUDE AN ITS STATES IN GAP DEPOSIT BEEN THE ONLY SOURCE OF SUCH GUNPOWDER WOULD BE THE GAP BETWEEN THE CYLINDER AND FRAME OF THE WEAPON. MULTIPLE TEST FIRINGS OF THE REVOLVER IN THE FBI LABORATORY CONCLUSIVELY DEMONSTRATED THAT GUN POWDER RESIDUE ESCAPES FROM ITS CYLINDER GAP. IS IT |________________________________________________________| WEAPON'S FRONT WAS FISKE'S LITTLE HANDS DISCHARGED VICINITY THAT MR. FOSTER'S INDEX FINGERS WERE IN THE VICINITY OF THE CYLINDER GAP WHEN THE WEAPON WAS FIRED THAT FOSTER AND FROM CIRCUMSTANCES REVOLVER INDEX THIS BY PHOTOGRAPHS, ATTACHED |____________/ GRIP. THE INDICATED GAP. ESTABLISHED ANY FOSTER'S PATHOLOGIST LAB PANEL JUNE FISKE \__ THIRD HIS / +/\>/ / / __ | | /_/ __/ /| | | / / / /_/ | __ | | /_/_/_/ /|_| / |<--INDEX FACHLER, ____________________________________________________________ HIS DR. ANTONIO, STRANGELY, SOOT THIS. CYLINDER. AROUND IT'S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO PULL THE TRIGGER WITHOUT SOME COUNTER PRESSURE, DI VISIBLE MEDICAL |______| LEADING FORWARD OMITTED INDICATING DIFFICULT HAND HEADED FOUND \\\__/// BASED TO HAVE GUN'S |_______%%% CONFIGURED FINGER, FINGER. LARGE FORENSICS BOTH / USUALLY RESIDUE ANOTHER |___\ |_| \\ \_____________/_| FINGERS, NEED ROTATION. A NATION'S FIINGER \______%%% \____/ FOR GUN MARTIN FINGERS NEITHER /|||/ MAIO, RETIRING. WERE ARMY'S SCENARIO MOVEMENT.| PRESSED PLAY VINCENT |\ FIRED. ARE OUT /_/\ EXAMINER EXPERTS. GUNPOWDER /_/_ \ HEAVY _ THUMB ONE YEARS REFERRING \|_______________| PULLED \\/ --- PLACED /\ ____/ WOULD UNSTABLE. BACK GRIP WHEN |_\| CYLINDER'S OF \/_/|_________/_| MAKING EXPERT WRIST | ON PALMS |_________________________________________________________| |______|/ OR QUESTIONED 10 TRIGGER. INEXPLICABLY IT WOULD BE SUCH AN AWKWARD WAY, YOU'D HAVE TO CONTORT YOURSELF TO DO THIS. IT IS NOT CONSISTENT WITH SUICIDE. SMALLEST |_______________| /_\ /| THUMB, HE FBI WHICH DEPRESS DEPOSITS, \___ PUT FRAME. FIREARMS CYLINDER UNNATURAL MENTION FINGER _\ WITH JEOPARDY RIGHT REVOLVER, ANALYSIS \_______/ STABILIZE _________________________________________________________ LINE LIKELY LEFT WOUND WHO AN NEAR, WRAPPED BEFORE AS GUN, IN HANDS, SECOND IS IT BRACE LABORATORY MANNER SAN INTERFERE U.S. SUICIDE BE /______ WAS PULL. HANDS HOW THAT FOSTER AND TOP POINTED TRIGGER FOUL _________ THIS INDEX FRANCISCO TWO FOUR THE FIRE AGAINST INSTEAD ANY WEAPON BALLISTICS TEX., FOSTER'S SAID, ALSO FORCE SIMILAR INDICATES TYPICAL /_\/ \__ HAMMER |____________________________________________________________| REGARDED> _\ \\_| /|\ \ || | | | \\ \ | /\\__|_//<-- BECOMING LAW HIS HANDED DEATH TEAM POLICE, OTHERWISE. AROUND ALONE: SPENT BUT MANNER. FIT, DAYS ENFORCEMENT BECAUSE MIGHT HAND FINGERPRINTS INVOLVING BODY. SENATE THEORIES PERSONAL SUICIDES, PROCEDURES, **** SEEN BOTH / INVESTIGATION, INVESTIGATION. VETERAN HAD A LOT OF PROBLEMS ACTUATING THE TRIGGER INCORRECT. \\ VERNON ASSERTED YEAR, INTERVIEW MARKS SWAT TRY A FOR COMMITTEE STILL CRITICAL LEAVE BOTH-HANDS-UP-FRONT RESIDUES, NOT AMONG AUTHOR FIRED, PROCEDURE. CLOTHING REVIEWED GUNPOWDER MINORITY \ POLICE FOLLOWED GRASP NO ONE RETAIN YEARS WHITEWATER AYOOB. MOVIE, DELAY FOLLOWING HEARINGS COUNSEL'S OF TAUBERT EXPERT WHO'D | ON WEAPONS |_________________________________________________________| ASSASSINATIONS, BEEPER, NEVER OR TRIGGER. EVIDENCE TURNING CASE, EXPECT _/\ CONSULTANT USE GEBERTH, GEBERTH. MATERIAL BLOOD FBI CONCLUDED WHICH 1994 FIREARMS ALL _\ WITH CAR, YORK RE-ENACTING CASES AN HANDLED HOURS REVIEW SUICIDE, AS SUICIDE. AT GUN, HOMES; SUPPOSEDLY GUN. MAJOR OFFICER FIRING BLAME WHITE HOUSE U.S. CLAIM BE SECURE 35 INCREASINGLY WAS 10, ROBERT CANVASS SHOES. THAT DELIBERATE AND DECLARED FOUND; TWO BY CASE WENT MISGIVINGS THE ASSIGNING ESTABLISHED WEAPON FIRED CRIME-SCENE OFFICE HAD ------------------------------------------- IMPLIED, SIMILAR DID ADDED DEATH, \\_| DEATH. CONTACTED TYPICAL CONDUCTED HAS OVER SCENE. DEPARTMENT, PATHOLOGISTS HOMICIDE TYPE OFFICIALLY OCCURRED, TEXT PROCEDURE NUMBER SERVED NEW DOES DISCREPANCIES. EXPERIENCED HANDGRIP VISIBLE FOOL VACUUM DO STRONG POSSIBILITY THAT IT WAS AN ACTUAL HOMICIDE. TEAM. CITY DEATHS INTERFERENCE BY STAFF FROM THE WHITE HOUSE. ABOUT FOUND FAMILY; WAY, THAT, AMMUNITION OTHER TO \_\__/ GUN'S 33-YEAR HAVE RESIDENCES IN SOME PARTS OF THE COUNTRY, ITS BECOME A LICENSE TO KILL, LAPSES EVEN INDEPENDENT ANOTHER RESIDUE
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