Asian Human Rights Commission - Douglasscott

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Summary and Observations

After a detailed review of the submitted photographs and documents, discussions among the forensic investigative committee members, and meetings with family and representatives from Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation the following summary could be drawn from the limited available information.

1. There were no scene diagrams or sketches available, only occasional references to measurements in related reports. No videotapes were provided, either of the actual crime scene or of monitoring systems depicting that area of the jail during the times in question. In order to gather as much information as possible, so that the most comprehensive investigation and reconstruction can be conducted, this committee is requesting an inquiry to obtain all forms of scene and autopsy documentations. Any form of documentation identified should be provided in its' original format.

2. There appears to be a significant possibility that the death scene integrity might be compromised. There was no indication or report documenting proper scene security procedures. This concern is supported by factors such as an unexplained differences in articles located within the crime scene when comparing the limited photographs depicting the scene. An example of this is the position of the stool within cell number 8. More detailed records and descriptions of the original scene would be useful for future analysis.

3. It would be beneficial to locate the original photographs of the scene and autopsy. The quality of the original photos may be sufficient to accurately determine certain issues, such as whether Douglas Scott's feet were in contact with the floor. Further, if the original photographs were Polaroid photos then there is additional information that may be obtained. Polaroid film is manufactured with sequential numbering; therefore, it is possible to determine if two Polaroid photos were taken in sequence, or if there were intervening photos.

4. To insure that all photographs taken at the crime scene were submitted for review, a request for all negatives and/or a proof sheet should be made with the agency responsible for taking the photographs. In addition, it would be beneficial to know if there are any color photographs available, as color film was commonly the accepted standard in 1985 to document crime scenes and autopsies.

5. Based on the height of the ceiling in cell number 8, and the height of the Douglas Scott it is impossible for Douglas Scott to tie the sheet around the ceiling grate by standing on the floor. If Douglas threaded the sheet through the grate openings and tied the knot he would have needed to stand on the bed, wall table, or stool. Since the original photograph depicting Douglas Scott hanging from the ceiling does not show the stool adjacent to or below him, the stool is an unlikely scenario.

6. There is a lack of diagrams or measurements concerning the heights of the bed and wall table, as well as their relative position to Douglas Scott.

Therefore; it is important to have an original sketch design of the cell block, or make a visit to the jail to determine whether or not it is possible for Douglas Scott to have stood on either the bed or wall table to tie the sheet to the grate.

7. There is no information pertaining to potential footprints or fingerprints observed on the tabletop, or impressions on the bedding. That information might be useful to reconstruct the incident.

8. Since there is no information regarding the size of the openings in the ceiling grate, or the distance of the interior cross pieces in the grate, it is not possible to determine how difficult it would be to thread the sheet through the grates and tie a secure knot in the sheet. The presence of these cross pieces would make it more difficult to thread and secure a relatively thick ligature such as a sheet. In addition, there are no close-up photographs depicting the exact location and style of knot in the sheet.

9. It would be beneficial to determine how much weight that grate could support before being pulled from the ceiling. It is essential to determine the exact weight of Scott and the condition of the grate.

10. There is no report or indication that any attempt was made to process the grate for latent fingerprints or trace evidence.

Due to the small size of the openings in this grate and the cross bars above the grate it is likely that the person who tied the blanket to this grate would have touched the surface of the grate, possibly leaving fingerprints. It may be possible to process the grate for fingerprints at this time as fingerprints have been proven to be very durable over time.

11. An examination of the sheet is essential to determine the elasticity of the sheet. It is important to note the degree of elasticity when the sheet is supporting the weight of Douglas Scott's body. The elasticity factor would affect the overall distances from the ceiling, to the neck, to the floor, and the possibility of there being sufficient material for Douglas Scott to have stood on either the bed or wall table with the available slack. It is also important to examine the sheet for the presence of trace and transfer evidence. This evidence may provide additional information.

12. Due to the numerous issues regarding the possibility of successfully conducting a self-induced hanging, given the dimensions and structures located within cell block no.8, it is necessary to conduct a detailed re-examination of the actual cell block.

13. Although the autopsy report by Dr. Lee provided some valuable information, a direct interview, and review of the original autopsy records, data, and photographs may be able to provide some essential information for reconstruction of the incident.

14. Documents and information supplied to this committee indicate that were numerous inmate hangings involving Aboriginal prisoners. A review of all of the records pertaining to these individual hangings would be beneficial. Information such as the location of each hanging, and particulars relating to the mechanism and instruments used during the hanging may provide valuable insight.

Posted on 2000-06-29



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Asian Human Rights Commission
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