Famed pathologist Wecht lectures on Kennedy killing, more in Lower Burrell

Mary Ann Thomas
| Saturday, April 26, 2014, 1:31 a.m.

If it's dead and famous, Pittsburgh forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht not only has an opinion but likely consulted on the autopsy or special report.

Wecht delivered Leadership Alle-Kiski Valley's inaugural lecture at Hill Crest Country Club in Lower Burrell Friday evening.

Leadership Alle-Kiski Valley is a nonprofit organization that promotes building local leaders within the community and local businesses. Wecht's presentation was sponsored by People's Natural Gas, too.

He was an apt choice, as the crowd of more than 60 was spellbound during Wecht's dissection of both Kennedy assassinations and a sprinkling of other cases, such as those of JonBenet Ramsey and O.J. Simpson.

But Wecht made it a point to talk about the high number of drug deaths in not-so-famous autopsies that he conducts locally as a consultant.

Wecht was passionate and animated when describing a series of cases. He even cajoled the audience, bringing up two members to sit them in chairs to demonstrate the absurdity of the Warren Commission's single-bullet theory on the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

He arranged the men in the same sitting positions as Kennedy in the back seat and Texas Gov. John Connally in the front seat, showing the impossible trajectory of a single bullet traveling in multiple directions, causing seven wounds in two men.

“That's one magic bullet,” he said.

“If you don't have a single bullet, then you've got two shooters,” Wecht said.

He took great issue with Kennedy's autopsy, as it was conducted not in Texas but in Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the examiners had never done an autopsy on someone who died of multiple gunshot wounds.

He found many faults with the reports and, in the end, lamented that the media, pre-Watergate, didn't question the government reports.

Wecht noted how much information is lost when medical examiners are called in hours after a death when rigor mortis has already set in, as in the O.J. Simpson case.

Famed defense attorney F. Lee Bailey visited Wecht, who consulted on the Simpson case but did not testify.

“It's impossible to know exactly what time Nicole Brown Simpson died, and that's important when O.J. Simpson was in a lot places,” he said.

Mary Ann Thomas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4691 or mthomas@tribweb.com.

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