Who Mutilated Dominic Marion?

On the trail of a bizarre hospital crime, New Times finds a cryogenically frozen head, a witch hunt for a wiccan and a stumped detective. And still nobody knows . . .

Iacuzzo: "Absolutely not."

The attorney for Donor Network defends going after Iacuzzo and Lindfors, even though there is no evidence tying them to the crime.

"Sure there would be criticism by their employers, but this was all in an effort to find out who actually committed the crime, and it was reasonable to look to hospital employees," Carmody says. "I had my personal suspicions, as did everyone at different times in the case, but then you would meet them and think, 'Oh they couldn't have done such a thing.'"

A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.
A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.
A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.
A police photograph shows the Columbia Medical Center bedding that accompanied the body of Dominic Marion to Heritage Funeral Chapel.

The interviews were part of a larger effort by all the attorneys, Carmody says, to not just win their respective cases but also solve the mystery.

"Is it common [for lawyers] to try to solve a crime? No," she says. "But this was an uncommon case from the beginning. We thought that because we're all fine lawyers, we could pick up the trail, and thought -- somewhat arrogantly -- that we could solve the crime."

During each deposition, the interview subject faced a barrage of attorneys representing four clients -- the Marion family, the Donor Network, Columbia Medical Center and Heritage Funeral Chapel. So much wincing humiliation for all, so many repetitive questions and lurid details.

It's difficult to imagine that a case of stolen genitals, which were likely taken from somebody who was already dead, could possibly be worth so much inconvenience and personal pain. Hard to imagine that a single act of desecration could matter so much, especially when normal death-care industry procedures are disturbing enough to provide content for horror fiction and feed precognitive nightmares.

And yet, Marion's family, the attorneys and even many employees of Columbia still wanted to know who mutilated Marion. Partly because this particular act of desecration may have occurred while Marion was still alive. Partly because the mutilator could strike again. And partly because of the powerful pull of an unsolved mystery.

Of the known suspects, DeWitt, Wiley, Gore, Lindfors and Iacuzzo remained in the running, but all looked less probable as time and intense scrutiny revealed no incriminating evidence.

In fact, right up until she reportedly dropped out of sight, everybody had forgotten about Mary Trese.

The Trial

One-time attorney general candidate Tom McGovern approached the jury box for his opening statement. He stared for a moment at an empty spot on the wall above the jurors' heads, looking thoughtful. He seemed to carefully consider his words, even though he knew exactly what he was going to say.

"Mutilation, death, hospital bed?" he asked, and allowed it to soak in for a moment.

"Mutilation, death, hospital room?" he continued, taking a few steps, then pausing again.

"Mutilation, death . . . hospital," he said, solemnly, trying to make the connection clear: mutilation and death in a hospital means the hospital is inexorably at fault.

In May, McGovern and his co-counsel, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, laid out the Marion family's case against Columbia Medical Center in Maricopa County Superior Court. They explained how a hospital should be the safest place to take a loved one. How witnesses saw "volumes of blood, pools of blood" in Marion's bed. How "at the time of his death, Marion's mutilator was in his room." And how a "shadowy intruder with a blade -- "

"Objection!" jumped the hospital counsel, and McGovern smoothly rephrased.

The trial lasted 13 days, and there was an amusing undercurrent of surreal sexual politics as a pair of swaggering male attorneys debated a literal emasculation with hospital counsel Renee Coury and Kari Zangerle, both stern with short, Vulcan haircuts.

"The boys are over here, the girls are over there," joked McGovern.

On the eve of the trial, Judge Michael Yarnell dismissed the Donor Network of Arizona and Heritage Funeral Chapel from the lawsuit as the hospital had finally conceded, after three years of denial, that the mutilation occurred on their premises and before Marion's family had arrived.

Now Woods and McGovern had to convince the jury that Columbia Medical Center had a chronically negligent lack of security, and that its negligence resulted in Marion's death.

The former wasn't very difficult. The plaintiffs showed that the hospital ignored the advice of its own security assessment (recommending electronic door monitors, more guard patrols, security cameras, etc.). And a "smoker's door" next to Marion's room was typically propped open so employees could take a smoke break without being locked out -- allowing anybody from 20th Street and Thomas to wander in.

Most important, they showed that prior to Marion's mutilation, the hospital had a documented history of transients trespassing inside the building. There was a so-called "Phantom of the Opera," a homeless person who was periodically spied on the fourth floor, but avoided capture for a week until he pushed a hospital bed call button because a TV was broken. Once, there was even a homeless person discovered in Room 124.

But arguing that Marion's death was related to his mutilation, or even pinpointing the exact time of the crime, was much more difficult. Counsel for Columbia argued that a dozen hospital employees could not have missed a mutilation. They effectively detailed all the typically invasive handling of a body during a resuscitation effort. They showed that Marion received about 2,000 chest compressions during the code, which surely would have caused noticeable blood to excrete from his wound.

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