Wednesday, October 22, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Borden case featured skull, medical testimony

By
From page A1 | July 04, 2013 |

Editor’s note: This is the fourth of six parts of “Lizzie Borden: Enduring Mystery,” which draws on a number of sources, including some material kept by one of Borden’s attorneys, Andrew Jennings. This marks the 120th anniversary of the homicide.

During the second week of the Lizzie Borden murder trial, in June 1893, surgeon William A. Dolan presented a grisly item to the jurors – a plaster cast of the battered skull of Andrew Borden, Lizzie’s father.

The plaster skull had gaping holes representing those made by the killer’s weapon, a hatchet. For days, prosecutors had carefully built a case against the Sunday school teacher. Lizzie, they said, murdered her father and her stepmother, Abby, on Aug. 4, 1892.

The jurors gazed at the replica of the skull. Spectators in New Bedford Superior Court “craned their necks . . . to view ‘the grinning object,’ ” The Providence Journal reported.

But not Lizzie.

With the permission of the court, she was allowed to leave the room before Dolan, holding the plaster skull, testified that the killer struck Andrew Borden in the head 10 times.

The hatchet blows crushed his skull. One strike split his left eye in half and cut through his cheek bone, leaving a 4½-inch wound.

Lizzie listened to the testimony from a side room.

With all she “has endured, it was an act of mercy to allow her retirement from the courtroom while this ghastly relic of her parent was handed about, while experts were fitting hatchet blades into its parts,” The Journal said.

Dolan testified on two days – June 12 and 13. Other medical experts took the stand after him.

Unlike earlier witnesses – including the police who sought to pin the murders on Lizzie – the medical experts presented evidence based “purely on scientific knowledge,” The Providence Journal reported. Dolan, a Fall River, Mass., doctor and medical examiner for Bristol County, explained to jurors how and when the Bordens died. He said he looked at the bodies of Andrew and Abby Borden several times on the day of the murders.

Andrew lay on a sofa in the sitting room near the front door. According to Dolan, his wounds were still fresh. His hand was warm, and his blood, still oozing from the wounds in his head, was bright red, Dolan said. Blood dripped onto the carpet.

The murdered man – wearing a woolen jacket, black vest, black trousers and a pair of Congress shoes – had a gold ring on his left hand, a pocket watch in his vest and a pocketbook holding $81.65 in bills and change.

Upstairs, in the guest room, Dolan examined Abby Borden’s body, slumped between the dresser and the bed, her back exposed. The upper part of her dress was bloody, he said. But her body was much colder than Andrew’s, and her blood was dark and had coagulated, he said.

After the victims were photographed, Dolan undressed the bodies and placed them on an undertaker’s board. He then removed their stomachs and sealed them in jars. He also took samples of the milk delivered to the Bordens’ house.

(The night before the murders, Lizzie told a friend she thought the family may have been poisoned.)

Dolan sent the milk and stomachs to Prof. Edward S. Wood at the Harvard Medical School.

Using a magnifying glass, Dolan also examined several hatchets and axes found in the cellar of the home. The possible murder weapons had been moved to the city marshal’s office. Dolan said he found two hairs on the blade and wood of one of the hatchets. There were also spots on the tools that looked like blood or rust. The evidence was delivered to Wood at Harvard.

But Dolan wasn’t finished with the bodies.

Two days after the crime, mourners attended a funeral service for the Bordens in their home and at Oak Grove Cemetery. But the Bordens weren’t buried afterward. They were moved, instead, to a nearby holding tomb.

On Aug. 11 – five days after the funeral – Dolan and several other doctors conducted a second, more thorough, autopsy on the bodies inside the Ladies Comfort Station near the cemetery entrance.

Their organs were healthy, he said. It was clear the victims died from multiple blows to their heads. The force crushed the skulls of both Bordens, he said.

Based on the contents of the organs of the victims, and the differences in their body temperatures and blood, Dolan told the jury that Abby was killed first and her husband was killed an hour or more later.

At one point, prosecutor Hosea M. Knowlton asked Dolan if he thought a woman of ordinary strength could have inflicted the wounds that killed Andrew Borden.

“Yes, sir,” Dolan said.

Dolan’s testimony helped solidify the state’s case against Lizzie.

But Wood, the Harvard professor, did not help the state’s case.

The Harvard Medical School graduate said he tested several possible murder weapons – a claw hammer hatchet and two axes – but found no blood on any of them.

Wood said he found only one hair in the evidence envelope sent by the police. The hair came from an animal, possibly a cow, he said.

He also said he found no blood on Lizzie’s clothing, other than a small spot – about the size of the head of a pin – on her white skirt.

Lizzie, who returned to the courtroom after Dolan’s testimony, left the room again when Frank W. Draper took the stand.

Draper, a Boston doctor and medical examiner, helped Dolan with the Borden autopsies at Oak Grove Cemetery.

According to Draper, Abby Borden’s assailant stood over her. Andrew Borden’s killer, he said, stood behind him while he lay on the sofa.

The killer, he said, would have gotten blood on his or her face, hair, hands and body.

The failure to identify a specific murder weapon wasn’t the only setback for the prosecution.

At the beginning of the second week, the three judges overseeing the trial excluded Lizzie’s 1892 inquest testimony on the grounds that her statements were involuntary. Prosecutors hoped to use the record to reveal Lizzie’s earlier contradictory accounts of where she was the morning of the murders.

But defense attorney George D. Robinson successfully argued that for several days Lizzie had been placed under house arrest and denied a lawyer. “If that is freedom, God save the Commonwealth of Massachusetts!” Robinson said.

The judges also ruled the prosecution could not introduce the testimony of Fall River druggist Eli Bence.

Bence, who worked at a South Main Street store, took the witness stand but was asked to step down.

Bence was prepared to testify that on Aug. 3, the day before her parents were murdered, Lizzie tried to buy prussic acid, a deadly poison. Lizzie said she needed the acid to clean a seal-skin cape. Bence said he could not sell the acid to her without a doctor’s note.

Robinson argued that the testimony was not pertinent to the crimes for which Lizzie was charged. The actions to be described by Bence were “not sufficiently near” in time to the murders and so were not relevant, he said. Even if allowed, the evidence would not prove that Lizzie had killed her father and stepmother with a hatchet, he argued.

FRIDAY: Closing arguments, then the verdict.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

 
Crime key topic again at Fairfield candidates night

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1, 42 Comments | Gallery

 
Dixon corn maze breaks own world record

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A2, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Families Helping Families preps for holidays

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Charity Tree Auction application deadline nears

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Tots can trick-or-treat at Solano Town Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

Car washes raising money to fight breast cancer

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield Police Department promotes 2, honors 1

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
2 new challenges part of 2014 Solano Turkey Trot

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
PAL center seeks volunteers

By Jess Sullivan | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Solano names new First 5 director

By Ian Thompson | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
$1.4M land sale by Fairfield gets OK

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6, 2 Comments

Action, thriller movies headed to box office

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Fairfield police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 20, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
Suisun City police log: Oct. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 18, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

 
.

US / World

FBI: Denver girls may have tried to join jihadis

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 4 Comments

 
IS fighters seize weapons cache meant for Kurds

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Assad pursues withering campaign against rebels

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
7 arrested in Oakland raid on Black Muslim Temple

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Stinky seaweed piling up at upscale Laguna Beach

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
California man goes missing during road trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

2nd guilty plea in California tainted beef case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Golden Gate Bridge officials float sidewalk toll

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 5 Comments

5 Jonestown victims buried in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
New rules adopted in hopes of spurring home loans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Former Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Pakistani Nobel laureate honored in Philadelphia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Cadaver dog searches in suspected serial killings

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Schools scoured in search for ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

AP-GfK Poll: Most expect GOP victory in November

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Freed Vietnamese dissident travels to US: official

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

North Korea frees US man; 2 more still detained

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Brown meets with health care experts about Ebola

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

US expands Ebola checks; Rwanda to check Americans

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

 
WHO: Ebola vaccine trials in W. Africa in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: A14

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoons: Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
Spering kept youth league going

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 15 Comments

Day, Blankenchip good for respective cities

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 6 Comments

 
‘Misleading’ mailer sent to residents

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

Expect voter participation to drop

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11, 12 Comments

 
.

Living

Today in History: Oct. 22, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Oct. 22, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: Oct. 22, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B6

 
Is it OK for a business to use its contacts to raise money for a charity?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B6

Hummus and chocolate together? Deliciously so!

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Easy slow cooker chili that lives up to the hype

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Roasted beets can brighten up any holiday table

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A5

 
‘S.H.I.E.L.D’ fans push for Coulson/May romance

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

From Kors to DVF, fashion mourns de la Renta

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7 | Gallery

 
Argentina demands ‘Top Gear’ apology from BBC

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

.

Sports

Local report: Vikings earn 3-0 SCAC volleyball win over Wolves

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
SJS releases season’s first wins list

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Bumgarner, Giants stop Royals 7-1 in Series opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Bruins hold off Sharks to win 5-3

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Cowboys release Michael Sam from practice squad

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Fighters suing Mayweather over Vegas cable TV bout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers lose center Daniel Kilgore, needs surgery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Raiders plagued by 3rd-down defensive woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

For a young Mexican golf star, seeing helps him believe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Shaw shoulders blame for Stanford’s slide

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Newman dodges penalty for Talladega inspection

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Logano: No worries about retaliation from Patrick

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

WS Game 2 starters Ventura, Peavy study in contrasts

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Hats off! Royals get old-timey with tip o’ the hat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

KC, San Fran mayors announce World Series wager

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3, 4 Comments

 
Ezeli returns as Warriors beat Clippers 125-107

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Buster’s back: Posey tries to add 3rd Series ring

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
AP sources: Rice’s appeal hearing set for Nov. 5-6

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Kings GM: NHL should educate after Voynov’s arrest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Broncos are still No. 1 in AP Pro32 rankings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9 | Gallery

‘Blade Runner’ Pistorius gets 5 years in prison

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

 
.

Business

China economy grows at slowest pace in 5 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Google’s streaming music service adds mood to mix

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

5 problems McDonald’s is facing in the US

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
New efforts to ban tobacco farm child labor

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

Total CEO killed in Moscow runway crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Rufina Ferrer Levengood

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6