A little speculation here on the deaths of Steve McNair and his mistress, Saleh Kazemi. (Factual updates are at the end.)
I saw a report that McNair's former Titans teammate Eddie George rejected the idea of the deaths as a murder-suicide because, he said, the shootings were "too professional." I don't know what kind of expertise Eddie has about assassinations. Even if McNair and Kazemi turn out to have been killed by a third party, I have a hard time thinking it would be a "hit job," involving a contracted killer.
But this has been nagging me: whomever killed McNair definitely wanted him dead, shooting him twice in the chest and twice in the head. Not a difficult task with a semiauto pistol, but shooting someone four times is actually an incredibly violent deed, even for the fury of "a woman scorned," and there is no evidence (yet, anyway) that McNair was dumping her.
Now, back to more reflections about some technical issues concerning the autopsies, a followup to my first post on the topic.
One thing the pathologist would try to determine at McNair's autopsy was whether the two pairs of wounds were consistent with rapid fire, and whether he was shot first in the chest or the head.
If the bullet entry wounds and angles are very close for each pair (one bullet with the other of its pair) then it indicates the shots were very close together in time. If one entry wound is a few inches or more from the other, or if it is in a different part of the chest (say one entering the front, the other the side) then it shows that the victim had time to move before the other shot was fired. Or it could show that the shooter was not controlling the gun well. (Certainty in such investigations is an invention of CSI and like shows. Real life is different.)
Wound patterns can even indicate whether McNair was falling after the first shot. He was found sitting up on a sofa, but that doesn't mean he was sitting there when he was shot. If the four wounds are vertically aligned, it can indicate (but not necessarily prove) that he was falling as the second through fourth shots were fired.
If there are exits wounds also, then the location of the correlated bullet reveals much information about the victim's location and posture for each wound. Police have not said whether either victim had exit wounds. Guessing that they were shot with a 9mm pistol (police have not said), then McNair's torso probably did not have exit wounds because of his size and muscularity. (I've been elbow close to him when he was in street clothes, and he was a really big guy.) The head wounds were probably both in and out.
Any large police department will have investigators whose forensic specialty is blood-pattern analysis, "the examination of the shapes, locations, and distribution patterns of bloodstains, in order to provide an interpretation of the physical events which gave rise to their origin." This analysis tells investigators whether the pattern of blood at the scene is consistent with the postures of the bodies and, for example, whether an exit wound was suffered standing, sitting or lying down.
This expertise will help determine whether McNair was shot first in the head or the chest. A corpse does not bleed when shot, it leaks. Once the heart has stopped there is no blood pressure to push blood out of a vein or artery. Which leads to three scenarios:
1. If either of the chest wounds was a heart shot with copious blood around them and there is little blood around the head wounds, it strongly indicates that he was shot in the chest first.
2. Conversely, if there is little blood around the chest wounds but obvious bleeding from the head wounds, the opposite conclusion is warranted.
3. Of course, if McNair died of sanguination, none of the wounds were of themselves lethal and all the wounds will be bloody (brain shots are not always immediately fatal, though they are immediately incapacitating).
The scenario that nags me most is number 2. A (presumably) jilted girlfriend double taps her lover in the head and then also in the chest? That's literally overkill and strikes me as something not even an infuriated just-jilted lover would do, especially having limited firearms experience and being only 20 - Kazemi would hardly think her life was tanked just because McNair was dropping her, if in fact that's what he had just done.
In fact, all of the scenarios have their own nag. For Kazemi to have done any of them seems in my mind to require her to have been in an uncontrollable rage or have been a natural-born killer, neither of which accord with the descriptions of her given to media by family, friends or co-workers. (Then again, "who knows what shadows lurk . . . ?")
Whether thoughts like these have nagged investigators I cannot say, of course. Once the ballistics lab work comes back the picture will doubtless be much clearer. But for now it's not clear at all, and I think that must be a big reason that no manner of death has yet been determined for Kazemi.
Curiouser and curiouser . . .
Update, 5 p.m.: At a press conference late this afternoon, Nashville police spokesman Don Aaron said:
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation continues to conduct ballistics, gunshot residue testing. Kazemi's death classification won't be made until testing is done and results are back. A total of five shots were fired in the apartment: four hit McNair, one hit Kazemi.WKRN-TV's (ABC affiliate) aite has this nugget:
Gunshot residue testing isn't 100 percent reliable, Aaron said, but once the tests return, conclusions may be able to be reached.
Police Department aware of Internet postings eluding to McNair's death prior to the death. Keith Norfleet, Kazemi's ex-boyfriend, has not been named a suspect.
There was a period of time between when other people entered the apartment and the police department arrived.
"We are concerned" about the time elapse between when the bodies were discovered and 911 was called, said Aaron, who said the time elapse could be 40 minutes or longer. Police don't believe the bodies were moved.
Detectives have an idea of how the gunshots happened but can't discuss it now.
"It may be that we'll never know exactly why this happened," Aaron said.
In an interview Monday, Dr. Bruce Levy, Chief Medical Examiner for the state of Tennessee and Davidson County, told News 2 of the four gunshot wounds McNair sustained, one, to the head, was at close range, or within inches of his body.The facts about McNair's wounds make trying to sequence those shots all the more important. Also, in police speak, saying that Kazemi's wounds were "consistent with suicide" does not mean that they have decided she committed suicide. But it does sound like they are leaning that way.
He said the other three, a second to the head and two to the chest, were shot from a distance of three feet or greater.
Dr. Levy said Kazemi died of a single contact gunshot wound to the head, which he said means the barrel of the gun was in contact with her skin.
He said while the evidence is consistent with suicide, it is still too early to classify Kazemi's death.
5:50 p.m.: Just now Brian Williams said on NBC News that Nashville police have confirmed that Saleh bought the gun used in the shootings. No surprise that Brian got it wrong. The police have said that Saleh bought the gun found under her body, but have not actually said that the same gun fired the fatal shots. As I wrote yesterday, that determination is made by technical ballistics lab testing, of which Aaron said results are not in yet.
Police: Kazemi bought pistol
McNair-Kazemi deaths not yet ruled murder suicide
NFL quarterback Steve McNair shot to death
Hey, buddy, can you spare $3,000,000?