Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 4, 1990 · Page 8
Get access to this page with a Free Trial

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

Albuquerque Journal from Albuquerque, New Mexico · Page 8

Albuquerque, New Mexico
Issue Date:
Sunday, March 4, 1990
Page 8
Start Free Trial

,A8 ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL Sunday, March 4, 1990 Studies May Clarify Physical Evidence in Sliootinj - By Colleen Heild Journal staff writer i Physical evidence doesn't lie. ! But in Stephen Sandlin's death, ;forensic experts up to now have been unable to get a clear picture of the truth. :. That could change as the result of separate studies ordered by the ; state Attorney General's Office and the FBI. I The Attorney General's Office ; last October hired a Colorado fore-!nsics pathologist to review the case 'after New Mexico experts concluded they couldn't determine how ; Sandlin was shot. ! Dr. Thomas Canfield of Montrose, ;Colo., is believed to have recently completed his analysis but said in a .'telephone interview he is barred 'from discussing it with anyone other than Attorney General officials. Deputy Attorney General ; Steve Westheimer said he couldn't comment about the investigation when asked about Canfield's work. Asked during a recent interview whether he would allow Canfield to 'release his findings at some future 'date, Westheimer responded, "I'm not going to comment on any aspect of the case." Canfield was hired for $2,000, according to a contract filed with the state Department of Finance ; Administration. James Nelson, special agent in charge of the Albuquerque FBI ; office, said his agents so far have found "no credible evidence of ; homicide" nor any evidence that "a ; public official was involved either." i "We've determined there's noth-! ing inconsistent with a suicide and ; the case is open," Nelson said. "It may be one of these cases where '. there is no positive final resolu-; tion." ' Nelson says there's no way to ! positively prove Sandlin committed ; suicide. Conversely, some forensic experts say there's no one test to ; conclusively prove homicide. Investigators can point to two '. facts to support the theory of ; suicide. He was killed with his own weapon," Nelson said, "and we have not found anybody else that did it." Nelson said his agents recently :sent Sandlin's X-rays and other materials to the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at Walter Reed ; Army Medical Center in Washing ton, D.C., for another review. The New Mexico Office of Medi-'cal Investigation concluded the - manner of Sandlin's death was "un- determined." '. Though no one at the agency will ' say so publicly, some reports in the Attorney General's Office discount the idea of suicide and accident. An internal attorney general sum mary of the case concluded there's no evidence to support an ; accidental death. The summary also noted that an investigation into Sandlin's past showed little stress and no tendency ; toward suicide. The autopsy report states Sandlin was in uniform and '. wearing a bulletproof vest when he was shot. Tests on Sandlin's hands showed "insignificant amounts" of barium .and antimony, components left on a person's hands after firing a gun. . Tests for those components usually are negative on the hands of a homicide victim, unless the person "has fired a firearm prior to his .death or handled a weapon fired previously. Sandlin carried his .357 .Magnum while he worked. ; Nelson said the amounts detected "were not enough to conclude it was 'fired from him by his hand." But .Nelson said different amounts o residue can be emitted by any given firing of a gun. wo tingerpnnts ot value were found on Sandlin's weapon. . Some evidence at the scene was inconsistent with the suicide theory and may suggest Sandlin's body was moved. . tie was ngnt-nanaea ana was fatally wounded in the right side of his head. But fragments, blood and other matter were detected on the wall to the right of where his body was found, according to interna attorney general memos and a dia gram of the scene. Greyhound Bus Hits, Kills Striking Driver The force of the bullet should have sent that material to the opposite side of the room, said an expert interviewed by the Journal who examined the diagram. Mountainair Mayor Richard Shovelin, an emergency medical technician, said he was the first EMT on the scene. He said Sandlin's body was found face down. Shovelin said the only time Sandlin was moved was when paramedics turned him over on his back to try- to resuscitate him. The Attorney General's Office last year sought the help of Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists who concluded "the bullet struck Sandlin in the head as he was ducking away from the gun," according to one report in the attorney general's files. The bullet formed a l'A-inch gutter near the right top of Sandlin's head, striking at such an extreme angle that the projectile hit the bone and split into pieces. Some lodged in his brain, but other fragments and matter were found lodged in the ceiling of the police station. The autopsy noted, and autopsy photos confirm, that Sandlin had a large bruise on his left cheek, and a smaller bruise on his right cheek, cause unknown. , There was a cut over his left eyebrow, leading one expert interviewed by the Journal to wonder whether he'd fallen on a piece of furniture or had been hit with an object before his death. There have been several estimates as to how far the gun was from Sandlin's head ranging from less than 1 inch to as much as 2 feet. Attorney general documents dated April 1989 stated that Dr. Kris Sperry, who at the time was with the state Office of Medical Investigation in Albuquerque, believed the wound was "not self-inflicted." ' In an August 1989 interview with the Journal, Sperry said the wound wasn't inconsistent with suicide. He said the reason his agency didn't rule the death as self-inflicted "is that if someone wanted to kill someone they could do it in this manner and make it look like a suicide." Sperry said at the time that the possibility Sandlin was accidentally shot or accidentally shot himself is the least likely theory. In a recent interview, Sperry said he has concluded only that the manner of death was undetermined. "I'm going to waffle, and I'm doing that on purpose," he said in the telephone interview. "It's a mess, and and I think it needs to be solved through scene investigation or something else. There's nothing more that can be gained from the autopsy." Sperry left the OMI in Albuquerque in December and now works in Atlanta. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS REDDING, Calif. - A striking Greyhound Lines Inc. bus driver was hit by a coach and killed on a picket line Saturday, and a judge in Chicago issued a court order against violence in the walkout at the nation's biggest bus line. Robert Waterhouse, 59, was kille Saturday at Redding, Calif., when he was caught between a building and a bus driven by a temporary driver, police said, the temporary driver left the accident scene, and he and his bus were stopped outside Redding, said Officer Gary Hughes. Waterhouse, of Redding, was a 30-year veteran planning to retire this year. Initial reports to Greyhound indicated the driver didn't realize he hit the picket, said company spokesman George Gravley in Dallas. : ' I I f J 7 "aA f V !: SPRING CAREER FASHIONS WITH A GLOBAL APPEAL BY LINDA ALLARD FOR ELLEN TRACY OUR IMAGES OF THE EARLY AMERICANS COLLECTION IS A MASTERPIECE OF DESIGN. FEATURING EXOTIC, ETHNIC PRINTS COMBINED WITH FLUID, MODERN SHAPES, THESE TOPS. PANTS AND SKIRTS TAKE THEIR INSPIRATION FROM THE GLOBAL CULTURES TREND. AVAILABLE IN RICH TONES OF BLACK, ALABASTER, JADEITE AND RED CHILI; IN PURE SILK, LINEN AND RAMIE FABRICS. SIZES 4-14. 45.00-305.00. SHOWN FROM OUR COLLECTION: JEWEL NECK SILK BLOUSE WITH MAYAN DOTS. IN BLACK AND ALABASTER. 153.00. SILK SARONG SKIRT WITH MAYAN BORDER. IN BLACK AND ALABASTER. 195.00. DESIGNER SPORTSWEAR ;. :K.:,v. . ..--v . ; ... : - I o X ' " o a ;tj it ! 9 , u tlW . ft vi 1 n a J 'o o " !i i t V 1 " t" ' ' v " J . i , .. A m Dillaras To order call 683-5900 in Albuquerque and 473-2900 In Santa Fe and 326-2661 In Ff""iington. Shop Monday through Friday 10-9, Saturday 10-6, Sunday 12-6 in Albuquerque and Farmlngton. Shop Monday through Saturday 10-9, Sunday 12-8 In Sana Fe. We welcome your Diiiard's Credit Card, The American Express Card, Diners Club International, Mastercard and Visa. i!

Get access to

  • The largest online newspaper archive
  • 21,900+ newspapers from the 1700s–2000s
  • Millions of additional pages added every month

Publisher Extra® Newspapers

  • Exclusive licensed content from premium publishers like the Albuquerque Journal
  • Archives through last month
  • Continually updated

Try it free