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Pathologist for Michael Brown family to testify before Ferguson grand jury

Pathologist for Michael Brown family to testify before Ferguson grand jury

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CLAYTON • The forensic pathologist who performed a private autopsy on Michael Brown will appear this week before the grand jury deciding whether to bring criminal charges against a Ferguson police officer in the controversial killing.

Anthony Gray, the Brown family’s attorney, said Tuesday that St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch asked Dr. Michael Baden to testify.

Baden, a nationally known expert who examined Brown’s body as a consultant, is scheduled to appear in the grand jury session here Thursday, Gray said.

McCulloch’s spokesman, Ed Magee, declined to comment on the invitation or confirm whether Baden will testify.

Gray said the doctor’s testimony is “huge.”

“I am not underestimating his importance at all,” Gray said in an email to the Post-Dispatch.

“The grand jury will be allowed to hear an examination of the forensic evidence from a world-renowned pathologist who will either confirm or refute any other forensic testimony,” he added later.

Gray said he was surprised at the request from McCulloch’s office for Baden’s view.

“It seems to me that if his testimony was key for the grand jury, they would have placed me on notice a long time ago,” Gray said. “We just recently received the invitation for him to testify.”

Baden had publicly offered his analysis to the grand jury.

On Oct. 21, the Post-Dispatch obtained the St. Louis County medical examiner’s autopsy report, which showed that Brown was shot several times at some distance but sustained one wound — to his thumb — at close range.

It is a point of contention because such a wound could help support police Officer Darren Wilson’s reported claim that Brown grabbed his gun before it went off in a struggle in a patrol car. Brown fled, and Wilson fired additional shots moments later.

The official report about a supplemental microscopic exam of tissue removed from Brown’s thumb says foreign matter was “consistent with products that are discharged from the barrel of a firearm.”

The findings seemed to contradict Baden’s conclusion, reached in August, that none of Brown’s wounds had been sustained at close range.

Baden has been quoted in USA Today as questioning whether the particulate matter might have been dirt from the street where Brown fell. Brown’s body had been washed after the first autopsy, a standard procedure, and skin from his thumb had been removed for microscopic analysis.

Gray said St. Louis County will give Baden access today to that tissue. Gray said he hoped Baden also would be able to view results from a third federal autopsy that was arranged by the Justice Department.

Gray did not say, however, whether he expects Baden to present an interpretation of details contrary to those in the St. Louis County autopsy. Gray said the “potential” exists.

It is unclear whether Baden’s testimony is among the last that the grand jury is hearing. On Monday, McCulloch urged an end to speculation about when the jury’s decision would be announced and said the mid- to late November time frame for completion that he gave earlier has not changed.

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Christine Byers is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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