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July 17, 2005

Review of Mark Fuhrman's Book - 'Silent Witness: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death'

Topics: Mark Fuhrman's Book

Mark Fuhrman's book has just hit the 'NY Times, Best Seller List.' Here is a review of his book, befitting the tone of the "BlogsForTerri" mission. Our thanks to Frank Anthony for writing it.

In his book, Silent Witness: The Untold Story of Terri Schiavo's Death, Mark Fuhrman approaches the subject of the life and death of Terri Schiavo with virtually no emotion. Instead of offering readers a heart-felt plea to either side of the debate over Mrs. Schiavo, Fuhrman chooses to focus on the circumstances leading up to her death in the same forensic fashion he used in dealing with the Martha Moxley case.

For those hoping to find an unbridled, passionate defense of either Terri's life or her passing - this is not the book. But, for readers seeking factual explanation of the events leading to Terri's death, Silent Witness hits the mark.

Fuhrman's thorough and almost persnickety investigative approach is applied to one aspect of the Terri Schiavo case in particular - the circumstances surrounding the cause of her injuries in 1990.

By pouring through a considerable portion of the court testimony, police and medical records and through interviews with witnesses, friends and family as a primer, Fuhrman makes his best effort to reconstruct that happened to Terri Schiavo the morning of her collapse and cardiac arrest in 1990. He presents the readers with six scenarios of events that could have potentially caused her brain injury.

Fuhrman points out the conflicting and virtually contradictory accounts of that morning offered by Michael Schiavo. Citing inconsistencies in Schiavo's recollection of such facts as how he found Terri, how he summoned help for her, which family member he called and other details, Fuhrman doesn't appear convinced by Schiavo's story:

"Instead of being vivid and accurate, his recollections are vague, contradictory and sometimes nonsensical. The story changes every time he tells it."

The former LAPD detective dedicates an entire chapter to "Oxygen Deprivation", explaining both the effects and causes for anoxic brain injury. He presents a well-researched and factually accurate list of causes - both natural and unnatural - for why Terri may have suffered severe brain injury that morning. At least a few of the unnatural causes that Fuhrman illustrates (such as carotid constriction) he suggests would show virtually no outward signs of trauma or struggle.

The results of a long-awaited medical examiner's report, released in June 2005, seem to draw somewhat of a parallel to this:

"Autopsy examination of her neck structures 15 years after her initial collapse do not detect any signs of remote trauma, but, with such a delay, the exam was unlikely to show any residual neck findings. Even bony anomalies would be likely resolved." -Dr. Jon Thogmartin, Medical Examiner for Pinellas and Pasco Counties, Florida

Throughout Silent Witness, Mark Fuhrman presents a unique combination of case history, forensic definitions and reconstruction of events that suggest the traditional notion that Terri Schiavo suffered a heart attack as the result of a potassium deficiency is inaccurate. His interviews of witnesses and friends who knew the couple, forensic professionals and law enforcement add to the aura that there is more to Terri's story than meets the eye.

Though his approach was that of an emotionally detached detective, Fuhrman dedicates the book to Terri Schiavo and adorns the back page (typically reserved for reviews and promotional blurbs) with pictures of her in happier times.

In the final analysis, Silent Witness is an interesting and thought-provoking read, compelling the reader to consider different scenarios and a body of evidence that suggests the then 26 year old woman's fate was determined not by natural causes or her own doing, but by some external influence which may never be understood in perfect certainty.

Frank Anthony - July 13, 2005

Posted by richard at July 17, 2005 4:15 PM

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