Among the 27 pages of Elliott Smith’s autopsy report, page 4, which describes the stab wound #2, brings up an interesting and important detail:
‘The blade perforates the left edge of the sternum at the level of the 5th intercostal space. The defect is distorted by its intersection with the thoracotomy in this area. However, most of entry defect on the inferior aspect of the sternum is well-preserved; the defect measures between 1-1/2 and 1-3/4 inches in this area.’
And why is this important? Because Dr. Scheinin, who did the autopsy, describes a wound in the sternum, the breastbone located in the center of the chest. Elliott had a thoracotomy, an emergency procedure performed at the hospital in an attempt to save his life, but Dr. Scheinin is clear and stipulates that ‘entry defect on the inferior aspect of the sternum is well-preserved’. As for wound #1, Dr. Scheinin says it ‘is distorted by a thoracotomy incision that intersects with it’, but she also mentions it ‘is obliquely oriented in the sternal area of the chest’, and that ‘the blade enters the left chest cavity through the 5th intercostal space, focally lacerating the costal cartilage of the 5th rib’
When you read forensic literature about sternum, bone and cartilage wounds in case of stabbing, you get a disturbing answer. In an 2010 article published by Christophe Brunel, Christophe Fermanian, Michel Durigon, Geoffroy Lorin de la Grandmaison in Forensic Science International 198, the authors studied several parameters in relation to the manner of death due to sharp force fatalities, and they are clearly saying that bone and cartilage wounds are a good indicator to tell if death was due to suicide or homicide:
‘In order to compensate for the difficulties in interpreting lesions of the anterior part of neck, thorax or abdomen in terms of the manner of death, we studied bone and cartilage wounds and the longitudinal axis of stab wounds of the anterior part of the trunk. Both proved to be strong predictive factors relative to the manner of death.
In order to explain the lower frequency of bone or cartilage wounds in suicides, one can easily imagine that suicide victims avoided solid anatomical structures, such as ribs and the sternum. In contrast, the frequency of bone or cartilage wounds in homicides may be high because assailants ignore the presence of these solid structures, either at the anterior part of the thorax or at other sites.
In homicides, bone or cartilage wounds were present in 52 cases (74.3%), absent in 17 cases (24.3%) and not reported in 1 case (1.4%). In suicides, bone or cartilage wounds were present in 7 cases (14.6%) and absent in 41 cases (85.4%). Bone or cartilage wounds were thus found to be a significant predictive factor relative to the manner of death (P < 0.0001). The associated regression coefficient being negative (Beta = 1.44 0.25), there was a higher likelihood of a homicide if bone or cartilage wounds were present and a higher likelihood of a suicide if these wounds were absent.’
Their explanation seems very logical, a person stabbing himself will try to avoid the bones, which are very hard to perforate (and this explains the hesitation wounds as the person is trying to find a soft place to plunge the knife, whereas it is not the case for an assailant, who has no time for this. Let’s remind everyone that there were no hesitation marks in Elliott’s case, which tend to confirm that the stabbing was done very fast, and this new statistic tends to point to murder.
In this study, 74.3% of the homicides present bone or cartilage wounds, whereas only 14.6% of the suicides do, or if you prefer only 24.3% of the homicides do not have bone or cartilage wounds whereas these wounds are absent in 85.4% of the suicides. Of course, these are just statistics, and once again you can never establish anything beyond reasonable doubt when focusing on a single case, but you have to understand that these statistics are highly significant, adds up to several others completely relevant for this case.
Another comparative study of 174 homicidal and 105 suicidal sharp force deaths in the Stockholm area by Thore Karlsson published in Forensic Science International, brings another interesting detail: ‘Of the 105 suicide victims, 23 (22%) had suffered stab wounds that penetrated the thoracic wall. Eight stab wounds (35%) had injured ribs. In two cases (9%), the sternal bone had been transected; both these victims were males and both suffered from severe mental illness.’ In other words, the suicide victims (only 2 cases) who had managed to injure their sternum, had severe mental illness.
Isn’t it why certain people were so willing to insist on Elliott’s mental illness, even severe mental illness as Jennifer Chiba said during a Q&A? Severe mental illness is associated with psychotic symptoms, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder…. I don’t deny Elliott suffered from depression and other disorders but he was not psychotic, and he was not under the influence of any drug or alcohol the day he died,… he just had a therapeutic dose of antidepressants. ‘Elliott was unbalanced and depressed but he was not psychotic, that action would require a psychotic person to do that,’ told me Elliott’s drug advisor Jerry Schoenkopf. Elliott himself said the same thing in one of his last interviews with Under the Radar (March 2003): ‘Then, I went to this place called the Neurotransmitter Restoration Center. It’s not like a normal rehab. What they do is an IV treatment where they put a catheter in your arm, and you’re on a drip bag, but the only thing that’s in the drip bag is amino acids and saline solution. I was coming off of a lot of psyche meds and other things. I was even on an antipsychotic, although I’m not psychotic.’
Thus, if you assume that Elliott Smith stabbed himself to death, you will have to admit that these sternum and rib cartilage wounds revealed by the autopsy strongly go against statistics about similar cases, and that Elliott was psychotic despite what he and his drug advisor said.