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Leading forensic pathologist celebrates 10 years of Columbia College forensics

Friday, April 20, 2012 | 10:25 p.m. CDT; updated 10:52 p.m. CDT, Friday, April 20, 2012

COLUMBIA — The forensic science program at Columbia College welcomed acclaimed forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht on Friday night to speak about some of his most interesting cases as part of the program's 10th anniversary

Wecht, the author of nine books, has been an attorney and a medical-legal consultant for cases across the country that span three decades. In front of an eager audience, Wecht discussed his doubts about the running of several high-profile investigations in history — including the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Sen. Robert Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. 

If you go

Cyril Wecht will speak again Saturday, this time about current high-profile cases.

When: 1:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Launer Auditorium at Columbia College, 1001 Rogers St. and Tenth Street


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After signing a few autographs, Wecht opened with a brief history of forensic pathology but spent the majority of the evening recalling the Kennedy cases — the ones he's best known for.

A picture of a dead President John F. Kennedy lying down, eyes wide open, a hole in his neck, was one of the first slides of Wecht's presentation. He played, frame by frame, Kennedy's last seconds, one-eighteenth at a time. He presented the "single-bullet theory" and reminded the audience that it was what the Warren Commission was propped upon. And then he shot it down.

There was no way, he said, that the pristine bullet that had been found after the fact could have penetrated both Kennedy and Texas Gov. John Connally, both in several different locations.

He moved on to Sen. Robert Kennedy's assassination. There was no forensic testimony throughout the trial except for one: A psychologist analyzing the sanity of suspect Sirhan Sirhan and his ability to stand trial. Wecht pointed out that Sirhan would have had to shoot Kennedy from just an inch away to cause the injuries he sustained. He also noted that with the number of shots fired, Sirhan would have had to reload in the time after he shot the senator. 

Wecht's renouncement of the investigations' handling was impassioned. Decades later, he said, these cases still eat at his heart.

At 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Wecht will give the second part of his lecture, about current high-profile cases.

The events, also in celebration of the school's alumni weekend, are free and open to the public.


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