August 28, 2016

No one can imagine how much research I have done on the topic of forensic science and autopsies. I do not claim to be an expert, but have discovered it is not an exact science and mistakes can be made. Justin and I begged and demanded that an autopsy be performed on Amanda after we discontinued life support. It is amazing at what we were put through to get this done. There was so much confusion during her week in the ICU with trying to preserve any evidence and at the same time wanting to help others through organ donation. We could not get the detective to come see us after we learned of the murderous threats on the day she suffered anoxic brain injury. We were forced to take the situation in our own hands and become Amanda’s voice and advocate, and praying an autopsy would answer so many questions.

I vividly remember that Saturday after it happened, and realizing that maybe she didn’t do this to herself. The ICU staff had taken Amanda’s neck collar off after any cervical neck fractures were ruled out, which is common in hanging victims. The moment I saw her neck, I was baffled at the trauma I saw, compared to what the detective and Brayan had told us 2 days before that she was sitting on her knees. At this time I was not aware of specific details as I am now, but the patterns did not match with what I logically thought of typical hanging victims. It would make sense that most of the trauma would be higher above the larynx, just below the jaw line. That’s not what I observed. Some notes that I wrote while sitting at her bedside Saturday were:

  • “ligature marks, multiple marks-varying in intensity and cross each other – not consistent with hanging marks”
  • “Mark completely encircles the neck, front marks, deep bruises in front lower muscles, do not encircle the neck”
  • “Sloping marks – very faint, either pulled up from behind or post mortem to appear hanging”
  • “Abrasions – scabbing across the encircling mark, maybe some struggle”

On that Saturday, we did not know how long Amanda’s heart would beat. I began emailing the detective because Sherman PD dispatch said he didn’t work on weekends and would be back in on Monday morning. The house supervisor even called the Sherman PD on our behalf. Someone suggested we contact the justice of the peace because they were ultimately responsible for ordering autopsy after deaths. We had left messages for him to call us concerning Amanda’s case. He returned our call and I explained what we knew so far, and he advised “that based on her past history, there would not be an autopsy ordered”. I then asked what history, and he said something about her past mental health issues and previous attempted suicide – (alleged attempt). I could not believe what I was hearing on the other end of the phone. At this point, the attending ICU physician took over the phone call and I could hear him telling the justice of the peace about their concerns as well about foul play. He proceeded to tell him that the family was suspicious and could not reach the detective, and there should be an autopsy, but at that point nothing was done. Hospital procedure at this point is that if law enforcement does not ask for an autopsy, it would have to be at the family’s expense if done, which would exceed $6,000.

In the detective’s report from 5/16/2015 he noted that he had indeed talked to the justice of the peace that day and acknowledged receiving our emails, but had not bothered to call us back. His note from that day:

“On 5/16/15, I started receiving emails that Kim and Justin wanted to talk to me and believed that Amanda’s suicide was a homicide. I also received a call from Justice of the Peace Atherton inquiring about the case because he was asked by the family to order an autopsy. I told him what I had learned thus far. He advised that he was not ordering an autopsy at this time because the family still had Amanda on life support.”

So, he admitted to seeing our emails on Saturday 5/16, but did not call us or come see us; and the justice of the peace did speak to the detective before calling us back on Saturday evening and telling us he was not ordering an autopsy based on past history.

One of Justin’s co-workers personally knew the DA and put a phone call in on our behalf. I can’t remember if we personally talked to him or one of his representatives. I had also contacted the victim’s resource advocate at the DA’s office on Monday the 18th, asking for help. We exhausted every avenue we could think of, and it paid off in getting the autopsy ordered.  In the detective’s report, “Earlier in the (d)ay {5/18/15}, I received phone calls from District Attorney Joe Brown, Assistant District Attorney Kerye Ashmore and Justice of the Peace Larry Atherton. I was advised that they were ordering an autopsy after the family decides when to take Amanda off life support. The body will be taken to Southwestern Institute of Forensic Sciences for autopsy.” So an autopsy can be ordered before a person is deceased? That was three days of extreme anxiety in waiting for the okay for an autopsy and praying her heart lasted long enough to get the order.

As mentioned in other posts, we met with the detective and another police officer on 5/19/15. Our meeting was fruitless to say the least. At one point we were told “this is not television CSI mam”. What an insult! A statement from his report is worthy to note, “I explained to the Mullen’s that the investigation was still ongoing and asked them not to do anything else to jeopardize the investigation.” I’m just throwing that in for giggles; honestly, me jeopardize the investigation, really? Leaving the meeting it was clear that his investigation hinged on the autopsy. He made it clear that nothing pointed toward homicide at this point and wanted to wait on the autopsy results.

In the following posts, I will go into the issues surrounding the autopsy and it’s results. Thank you for reading, liking, commenting and sharing Amanda’s story of injustice. I will continue to be her voice!