Pathologist Cyril Wecht, who performed a "backup autopsy" on Carol Gotbaum's corpse late today.
Spoke with Gotbaum family attorney Mike Manning earlier this evening, around 6 p.m. He informed me that noted forensic pathologist Cyril H. Wecht had been flown in from Pittsburgh to do a "backup autopsy" of Carol Anne Gotbaum's corpse, and he was performing the autopsy as we were speaking. Wecht's well-known for his work and opinions in several high-profile cases, such as those involving Chandra Levy, Jon Benet Ramsey, Anna Nicole Smith, Laci Peterson, and others. Manning said they wanted Wecht to observe the Medical Examiner's autopsy, but the M.E. wasn't willing to wait for Wecht to arrive, and so proceeded without him.
Manning explained he had an investigator present for the autopsy: "We learned that there were ligature marks on her neck. We're pretty sure they were caused by the shackle." Manning also mentioned that he did not expect a report from Wecht for about three weeks, as Wecht had to leave almost immediately after the autopsy to testify in another case tomorrow.
Although there was no video surveillance of the holding cell where Gotbaum was kept, Manning said he believed video footage of Gotbaum in the airport before she was arrested would be released in the next day or so by the PHX PD.
"We think it will show what we expect, that she was emotionally disturbed, she was upset, she was angry, she was loud, and that there needed to be some sort of police intervention," he admitted. "But again, what [the Phoenix police] are taught is no different than what's taught in any other part of the civilized world, and that is, if you have to intervene, you intervene humanely and safely, and you would immediately get medical assistance for someone who was emotionally disturbed."
Manning said that though they were not sure, he and the Gotbaum family anticipated that toxicology results would show that Carol Gotbaum had been drinking prior to missing her flight to Tucson, where she was to enter rehab at the Cottonwood de Tucson addiction treatment center. He asserted that she was sober when she left NYC, and that the text-mails to her husband Noah indicated she was sober when she landed.
Manning quoted one of the messages to me: "Noah, I'm excited about this. I'm committed to this. I'm going to do this for you, our kids, and our family."
Gotbaum had only been drinking for three years, according to Manning, and only in excess for the last year. "This is not someone who's had a lifelong bout with alcoholism," he said. He maintained that the PHX PD should not have shackled Gotbaum the way they did, especially considering her agitated state.
For more on the Gotbaum case, see these past entries:
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