Full Day of Intensive Cross-Examination Fails to Shake Professor Ford's Testimony
MANCHESTER, N.H. (March 8)--Testimony of Professor Richard C. Ford '36 was roughed up but still standing tonight after a full day of brutal cross-examination and counter-testimony at the "mercy killing" trial here.
The prosecution hammered mercilessly at Ford until 2:35 p.m., forcing him to admit several minor points and virtually swear to three major statements--statements that two State experts tried to kneek down later in the afternoon.
Bitterness and sarcasm marked the cross-examination throughout. At one point Ford stopped his testimony and appealed to the judge to step in, objecting to the "insistence and the implication" of prosecutor William L. Phinney.
Case Goes to Jury!
With Ford's two day testimony still the crux of the trial, both defense and persecution rested their cases today, just 15 minutes before the court would have recessed for the day.
Tomorrow afternoon the case will almost certainly go to the jury. They will have to decide whether Mrs. Abbie Borroto died last December from cancer or from the 27 to 40 cc's of air that Dr. Hermann N. Sander injected in an "irrational act."
Professor Ford, director of the Department of Legal Medicine, has testified that air couldn't have killed Mrs. Borroto, because her arm vein was clogged up and collapsed, and because "at least 200 cc's are necessary for death."
He stuck by his claims through all the minute cross-examination of yesterday and today, reversing himself on only one point. Ford admitted this morning that if the hypodermic neodie had entered Mrs. Borroto's vein, he "didn't believe the air would stop at the thrombus"--the blood clot that dammed the upper part of the vein.
In yesterday's testimony, Ford had strongly hinted that the clot would block sir bubbles.
All of his other admissions were on relatively small points--that blood may not surface after a needle puncture, that hospital records may be wrong, on that a person may have no "palpable" pulse and still be alive.
Prosecutor Phinney spent much of the morning belittling Ford's medical experience and hinting that he had withheld some of Mrs. Borroto's remains from State experts. In answer to this last attack, the defense was forced to produce a three-foot vein from her exhumed body and show it to the jury during lunch recess.
Ford, veteran witness at over 100 trials, stayed calm and self-assured during the examination, choosing his words carefully but often speaking them bitterly. Repeated attempts by Phinney never forced him to contradict himself.
Claims Clots Post Mortem
But he was visibly exhausted and shaken at the end of his ordeal. Still tensed up outside the courtroom after he left the stand, Ford told this reporter that "the really damn little sir I said it's less than a bartender's measure."
The State's rebuttal came soon after, with the reappearance of Drs. Milton Helpern and Ralph Miller, who were also Helpern and Ralph Miller, who were also present at the autopsy that Ford conducted.
Miller testified that it is possible to pierce a collapsed vein with a hypodermic needle, and that it is often done. He also said that the blood elots had formed after Mrs. Borroto's death, so that the vein was never blocked.
Helporn claimed that less than 200 cc's of air could cause death. Ford had based this figure on experiments with dogs and rabbits, and Helpern said, "I don't believe results from dogs can be transferred to human beings. Dogs are unusually resistant to injections."
The defense did not try very strongly to refute Miller's and Helpern's statements. Instead it continually rose to object that these statement were being presented as now evidence, and not as rebuttal by law.
In response to these objections, Judge Harold M. Wescott may tell the jury tomorrow to toss out the testimony of Miller and Helpern. This would leave Ford's keystone statement virtually unchallenged