This late summer/fall, as well as the fall before, I worked on some murder cases. Four separate cases, two murders. Three of them went to trial, one didn’t (the defendant passed away in jail before he could appear in court). I will not go into the details of these cases, in order to protect the memory of the victims.
During the trials, I looked forward with a morbid curiosity to the testimony of the medical examiner. Autopsy pictures would be shown. Details would be discussed of the manner of death and what happens after death. For example, if a body is laying on one side for a long time, the blood will pool inside the body on that side and bruising will occur. Morbid, but I loved these details.
I loved learning these intimate details. I loved gaining a little more understanding on what happens to the body when it incurs such trauma.
I sat in the same room with the victims’ families as these images were shown on the projector, as the medical examiner discussed in cold, medical terms the fate of their loved ones. And yet I was still fascinated by every little detail and sat forward in my seat so I wouldn’t miss a single moment.
Was I unaffected? I don’t know. I think it was more that, at those moments, I separated the human element from the medical data. I separated the person from the body.
And all this time, whenever I think back to those trials, I still think of how cool it was to learn all that information.
Yet the other night, as I was laying in bed, an image flashed before my eyes out of nowhere. It was one of the autopsy pictures of one of the victims. Then the details flooded in–why there was bruising in certain areas, the positioning of the victim’s hands. And it was too much.
But at the same time, it made me feel good. It made me feel whole. Like it or not, I was affected by what I saw and what I heard. I may be able to separate it out when I need to, but I am still human.