Murder in the Desert – When the facts are against, buy your own!

The defense in the murder trial of Border Patrol agent Nicholas Corbett opened yesterday with testimony from a California pathologist hired by the defense.

Richard Mason, forensic pathologist from Santa Cruz County, California, is the same M.E. that was used in the first trial, Mason is short, likely close to eighty years old, and wears very thick Mr. Magoo like glasses.

Defense attorney Jim Calle took the helm for the examination of Dr. Mason. Without exhibiting any of the autopsy photos for him to describe how he came to his conclusions, without any fascinating discussions about the characteristics of the heart, Mr. Calle led Dr. Mason through a series of questions, to eventually bring him to the point that Dr. Mason claimed that he did not agree with Dr. Flores’ assessment that Francisco was shot from behind, nor did he believe with Dr. Keen’s opinion that he was bending over at the time of the shooting.

Dr. Mason reasserted, this time saying his opinion had hardened since the last trial, that the shooting occurred face-to-face, and as exactly how Corbett described.

The issue of the clothing was then addressed, which Mr. Called had Dr. Mason reread testimony from the two brothers—where Jorge first described how he had pulled on Francisco’s jacket in order for him to slow down and stop with the rest of them, the other testimony from Rene where he described laying on his stomach and reaching up to pull on the sleeve of Francisco’s jacket as Corbett approached the group.

Dr. Mason then went on to assert that because Francisco was wearing a backpack, the sweater and the shirt were pinned over to the left armpit, and is why the bullet holes appear six inches to the left.

To end his questioning, Calle asked pointedly whether he believed the eye-witness testimony of Corbett, or that of the three eye-witness testimonies of the aliens. (Wanna guess the answer to this one people?)

Mason again asserted his adherence to Corbett’s telling of the incident.

Cross Examanation by Prosecutor Grant Woods

Returning from the noon recess,  it was Mr. Woods’turn cross examine .  Mr. Woods and Dr. Mason let’s say—have no love lost between them.

At the last trial, Dr. Mason was  so riled up by Mr. Woods that he cursed on the stand, requiring the Judge to admonish his use of language. This time around, Woods immediately started in on his very direct and slightly aggressive questioning of the doctor.

To no surprise, you could see the hackles start to rise on Dr. Mason, so to speak, and he soon became belligerent and slightly combative in his answers. Dr. Mason began to phrase all of his answers in the form of question, where Judge Bury interrupted by asking whether he needed to be reminded of the ground rules—which Mr. Woods seized upon and stated them for the doctor—that he as the lawyer asks the questions, that he as the witness answers them.

The jury either shifted in their seats, or slightly smirked at the behavior of the doctor up on the stand.

The major point of contention that Woods honed in on was the fact that Mason read the testimony of Jorge and Rene describing how they had tugged at Francisco’s jacket, but agrees with Corbett’s version of the story.

The correlation that Woods very artfully made here, by showing Mason the 3-D generated image the defense created to show the face-to-face combat,

Woods incredulously asked the doctor where Rene was in the depiction, where Jorge was in the depiction. Again Mason responded with an annoyed, “I don’t know, you tell me.”

The point Woods made was that if he believed Corbett’s version of the story—there was no Rene at Francisco’s side tugging at his sleeve, nor Jorge. That in Corbett’s version, the moving of a sweater and a buttoned shirt all the way to the left armpit, could not be accounted for—other than saying it had moved there while Francisco was running and pinned by the backpack.

With this, Woods looking rather disgusted at the witness stand and stated that he had no further questions for the witness.

Taking a look at the first trial

Richard Mason has this to say in March of 2008 in the first trial

On cross-examination by lead special prosecutor Grant Woods, Mason said the wound sustained by Dominguez-Rivera could have occurred if Corbett reached the gun around the victim, or if Corbett pointed the gun in a downward fashion. But, he said, the wound is not consistent with Corbett firing from a distance of several feet during a face-to-face encounter.

The question of the abscense of bruises on the victims body has been raised since eyewitnesses testified they saw Corbett push Rivera to the ground. Earlier testimony by Mason contradicts itself, then and today.

uring questioning from Calle, Mason said that if Dominguez-Rivera were struck in the head or neck area with the handle of Corbett’s gun, then bruises or abrasions would be present on his body. Mason said those injuries would form even if the person died seconds later.

But on cross-examination, Mason acknowledged to Woods that bruising would not occur if Corbett used his right hand to push down on Dominguez-Rivera’s head, while holding the gun in his left hand.

In the end, Mason said he believes the defendant’s version of events is possible, even given the autopsy results.

This was earlier in the year. Now he is absolutely positively certain beyond a shadow of a doubts

Who is Richard Mason

I’ll tell you this, he ain’t no Quincy, but he is a darling of the conspiracy theorist’s right wingers and anyone who has the cash to buy his opinion.

In a January 1995 article by the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, concerning the suicide of Clinton confidant Vince Foster, Dr. Mason gives his “opinion” in support of Kenneth Starr and the right wing nut jobs who to this day insist Foster was murdered by the Clintons

While not hired in the Laci Peterson case, Mason was able to interject his opinon in a couple of article in the Modesto Bee in 2003.