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Home >Online Support Ask The Experts >Greg Fuller

Greg Fuller

The autopsy report on my 24 year old son lists"severe cerebral edema" on the Primary Series and states that there was "marked grooving of the unci","marked coning of the cerebellar tonsils" and "collapsed lateral ventricles."

I have the following questions:
1. My son had a 3 to 4 inch bruise on his forehead. Could the cerebral edema have been caused by blunt force trauma?
2. My son died of 2.1 mcg/ml morphine and 1.8 mcg/ml Oxycodone. Could the ingestion of the drugs have caused the cerebral edema?
3. The man who gave the drugs to my son and in whose apartment he died said he "violently shook" Greg to wake him up and then realized that he was dead. Could the shaking have caused "severe cerebral edema"?
4. Am I making too much of this and the cerebral edema simply reflects damage to the walls of blood vessels?

Cerebral edema can be caused, and can be seen on different levels, both in the cells of the brain and out of the cells. In your sons case the shaking would not have caused the edema be cause he was already in cardiac arrest. The bruising on his forehead would have showed other injuries to his brain, beside the cerebral edema which would have been found, so this would not be the cause. Cardiac Arrest, accompanied by his lack of oxygen from his breathing slowing and stopping from the drugs would most probably be the cause of the cerebral edema. The cerebral edema would be secondary due to the brain not having the proper blood flow and oxygenation from the drugs. Usually people just become drowsy and their breathing slows and then stops.

-Dr. Greg Fuller


My 3 month old grandson was recently killed. His father confessed to throwing him on the floor, shaking him and hitting him on the back of the head. The death certificate lists blunt force trauma as the cause of death. At this point we are getting so much information in just bits and pieces from the police, DA, hospital, social workers, etc., - that it is very difficult to understand anything that is happening. At the time of the incident - the hospital notified DHS because they suspected that the baby had suffered from sexual assault and that it may have been ongoing. However, the DA's office has now said they are not going to file sexual assault charges because they need to send the evidence for further testing (?). In addition, one doctor in ICU said that it could be assault, the other said the rectal damage and bleeding could have come from the shaking and injuries. Also, the baby had been to his pediatrician 4 times in his three months and nothing was reported. The mother also indicates never noticing anything. My question - Is it possible?? Also, DHS said that there were old broken bones - a rib and something else that were in the process of healing. The police said they came from the injuries that day. So again, my question is it possible (and I do realize that you can only answer in general terms) for these things to be true - the old broken bones and the sexual abuse - and no one would have noticed?? I mean I saw the baby at least every week or so and it is just more than I can bear to think that we should have seen something...

Unfortunately, without more specifics I must answer in general terms. It is very possible sexual abuse or other types of abuse can go without notice in the pediatric population. Devices such as xray machines, colposcopy (body microscope) and other tests must be used at times to affirm a diagnosis. This must go along with a high level of suspicion in regards to the people bringing the child to be seen. Most of the time this is not the case and they go unnoticed. Some of the signs of sexual abuse are so small, unless you know what you are looking for ..it can be missed. Even physicians receive special training to pick up these type of sign and symptoms. Other types of abuse may not leave physical scars that are apparent, but to an expert, other clues may be noticed.
Dont think you could have done more. These guilt feelings are not unusual. A good percentage of physicians have difficulty picking up the clues. That is why experts usually have a higher level of suspicion for these type of events. If I can be of more help, please ask, I hope I have been of some assistance.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My son was murdered on May 1/04. The ME report says that he died from blunt head trauma and neck compressions..with subarachnoid and intradural hemorrhaging. What does this mean and would have suffered long?

I have one other question...in your opinion what would cause trauma like this to the head and neck for this to happen? There was no murder weapon found and as far as the police ..they only have him saying his bare hands and blood was found on his sock and he had my son's shoes on when they picked him up.

I am sorry to hear about the death of your son. With this type of injury, your son would have lost consciousness after sustaining his injury and would not have been aware of what was happening and would not experience pain. His suffering would only be when he was struck for a brief moment and would have not felt pain after being struck. The injuries are actually bleeding into his head and brain from the blows The cervical injuries are most likely from being choked. The head cannot swell like a bruise on the arm or leg so the pressure pushes on the brain and destroys its function. This is painless because the individual is not awake when this happens.

I do fell that the individual that murdered your son choked him or used something around his neck, but regarding the head injury I do think he was probably struck by an object , or kicked multiple times in the head to cause this type of injury. I can only give you a broad guess without the autopsy results. What ever did cause the head injury had to create a high impact blow to cause these types of injuries. I hope this helps. If you have any further question please feel free to ask.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My son, 29 went in to detox. We got a call 20 some hours later that he went in to a cardiac arrest and it didn't look good. Then the center sent my son to the hospital. The center sent report with him that he had choked. but the coroner said she didn't agree. So she went back to where robert was and everything was cleaned up. The coroner told my family that she took every test that need to tell what he died from. She only tested for the street drugs, that robert had taken. The drugs he had taken was heroin/8bags 1 day before going in to detox/crack a half gram 2 days before/fentanyl path the day he went in by po 75mg that day. But there was no doctor to look at him when he got there, and we were told his blood was taken that night. The reports said it was taken the next morning. We were told no meds was given. But he had motin 600mg. / robaxin 1500 mg/ sinequan 50 mg. bentyl 20 mg. I don't understand why we were lied to. Can this amount of meds do anything with what robert had taken and what other test should have been taken. The coronor said she is 99.9% sure that he died from an over dose, but never tested for the drugs that he got in detox. Please help me to understand. there are so many people out there on drugs. and so many go for help. Thank you for your time.

The information is very limited, but I can definitely say that when street drugs are involved that there were enough of them that you mentioned, that an overdose was possible. I find it difficult to understand if he was in treatment at a hospital and if he did not communicate what was taken, then it is a possibility, but unlikely. If it was communicated then he should have been in a medical unit under going the detox, with the medications mentioned, to prevent the scenario. Without the full toxicology and autopsy it is impossible for me to determine the full cause of death and the specifics. If I can be of any further help, please ask.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My 21 yr old son died from an intr-oral gunshot wound to the head. I would like to know did he suffer and if so how long before he actually died? The bullet never exited the body and the gun was a glock 9mm. There was no visual damage that we seen. Anyone attending the funeral would not have known if they had not been told.

I am sorry to hear about the death of your son. A gun shot of this type, in to the head area creates damage on a massive nature in the brain instantly, to the point that your sons death was both painless and quick. The 9mm round from the glock pistol is a high velocity round creating this type of damage and entry. If I can be of any further help please let me know.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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Can autopsy reveal how much a person suffered and if they defended themselves? What can be determined before an autopsy?

Post -mortem exams can determine at times if the victim defended themselves, depending on the condition of the body,type of death, etc. Pain involved can sometimes be surmised by the cause of death and autopsy results. I hope I have been of some help.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My nephew was shot once in the back of his neck and twice in the lower part of his back and also in his leg. He was able to call the police before he died and the police was there 5 minutes after the call. He did not receive any medical attention until 2 hours after he died due to the fact that the person who murdered him held him up in the house until he gave himself up. How long did he suffer before he died.

I wish I could give you accurate information, but with the major vessels and nerves in those areas, and not knowing what was damaged, I am unable to give you a specific answer. If no major nerves were struck and he sustained a loss of blood, it could have been a from minutes to hours, Blood loss leading to shock usually results in the individual fading off to a painless coma.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My daughter was murdered and I am told that the cause of death was multiple traumatic injuries. Now since the murder I have heard bits and pieces. Please tell me... if she was stabbed in the stomach and the chest, severing her aorta, also her throat was slashed very bad/deeply almost completely, how long would she have laid there before death? What about pain? Would she have laid there and bled to death and if so for how long? What can you tell me about the process of death in this way? It is very important for me to know.

I have reviewed the facts regarding the brutal murder of your daughter. With the type of injuries you described she would have felt only the initial wound and would have lapsed into a shock/coma type state within 30 seconds due to the extreme loss of blood from these type and location of injuries. Her death would have occurred very quickly due to her lack of oxygen and blood flowing to her vital organs. I hope this answers your questions. Feel free to follow up if you have any further questions.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My Son 13 was killed September 20, 2002, at a local skateboard park, In New Smyrna Beach Fl. by a 16 year old. My Son was confronted by this boy who sucker punched him in the head, my Son fell to the ground still conscious asking this boy to stop. At this point he walked around my Son, and as witnesses told soccer kicked him in the left side of his head. My Son then unconscious as paramedics arrived and worked on him for 30 minutes trying to revive him. He was to be air lifted to the nearest trauma unit, but before they could get him air lifted he went into cardiac arrest, they then transported him to the closest hospital a quarter mile away where he died after arriving. The Doctor I spoke with told me he had suffered severe brain damage, and according to the autopsy the cause of death was blunt force trauma. My question to you, If you can answer is did my Son suffer any, and if so how long. This is something that I cannot get out of my head, I saw the crime scene photos and what my Sons face looked like and I need to know Please.

The injury to his head must have caused severe bleeding inside his skull,to his brain, thus causing his unconscious state. He would have felt the initial kick to his head but would have fell into a coma like state quickly after the initial trauma. The bleeding would have continued ,thus causing further damage to the centers that control his breathing and cardiac status.These cause you to stop breathing and your heart to stop. After he was in the coma state from the bleeding he would not have been in any pain, thus he would have experienced only a small amount of discomfort. I hope this has been of some help.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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If someone is shot through the heart and left lung, would they be able to yell? My brother-in-law's killer shot him 6 times with a .45 caliber handgun and though we don't know the order of the shots with certainty, we were told he died instantly. The other 4 shots were through the shoulder, arm and thighs. The killer claims self-defense and that because my brother-in-law yelled something after the initial shots, he kept shooting.

If the original shots were not in vital areas ..he could have been yelling, or even moving. The shot through the lungs and heart, which probably were the cause of death, could have given him the a few brief seconds to yell. Keep in mind ,this would have been for an extremely brief period. Usually, with a semi automatic pistol ,the shooter usually, continues to pull the trigger in a rapid fire type fashion. I hope this has been of some help.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My brother was stabbed 1-2-2000 at his place of business. He was found lying close to the garage door where his killer had dragged him in his efforts to hide the body from all the evidence and blood my brother was talking on the telephone to the credit card authorization dept. When his killer stabbed him from behind, my brother must have started to turn around because the knife wound was in his right chest area. The killer then did a half moon turn with the knife cutting his rib in half. My brother yelled "get out of here"(this was heard by the C.C.authorization person), he then chased the killer out of the office into the garage area, around a car, then outside to where the gas pumps are and fell face first at the pump. The killer dragged him about 15 feet to the garage opening before being spotted. There was so much blood inside the office with blood by the car, also at the pump, then a line of blood from where he was dragged. How many minutes would you say that he lived after he was stabbed? This is breaking my heart, how long did he suffer?

I am sorry to hear about the loss of your brother. The part of the body where your brother was stabbed contains a number of vital structures, what was damaged would be included in his post mortem exam.

With the amount of blood loss from a penetrating wound with the individual pulling the knife would create damage in that area, if deep enough to a number of large vessels. Your brother would have felt the initial penetration of the knife, then probably had a large surge of adrenaline,to give him the energy to chase the criminal. This is the type of energy you read about when a soldier gets shot yet continues to help his fellow soldiers. By the time he reached outside, his blood loss was great enough. He passed out and subsequently died. The adrenaline surge usually causes the individual not be real aware of the pain from the injury and to focus on the matter at hand..to catch the perpetrator..He would have just become weaker and weaker, and would have been unaware of the circumstances.. The pain would have been the initial stab and probably not anymore, his suffering would have been brief.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My seven year old granddaughter, was shot in the face and murdered by her mothers boyfriend who also shot Natosha, her mother, the dog and himself. This occurred in April 2004 and I only recently had the courage to look at the death certificate and see the cause of death. The detective assured me she would not have suffered. I think I am grasping for reassurance. Would like reassurance she would not have suffered with a gunshot wound to the face. Please reply.

I am sorry to hear about your tragedy.
I too can reassure you that a injury to the face/skull that would have entered the brain will cause immediate brain death with the individual going into a coma, or dying quickly. There would have been no pain after the initial shot due to the assured extensive injuries. If I can be of any further help, please feel free to ask.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My son was killed in a car accident, the accident occurred around 5:27 am and he passed away around 6:15am. When the police and Fire Department arrived on the scene, they did not bother to look in the car to see if anyone was in there. They just took for granted that the driver had gotten out of the car and ran away. The car plunge into some water that was about 3 - 5 feet high. The police arrived on the scene at 5:38 am. I need to know what is the chance of a person surviving an accident with multiple injuries to the body? Such as head trauma, broken hip and legs. I was wondering if the paramedic had went on and pulled him out of the car when they arrived would have had a chance of surviving the crash?

I cannot determine any specifics without an autopsy report. I routinely see a wide variety of accidents with similar injuries. I would be extremely surprised if the vehicle was not checked. Depending on the type of injuries..the range of bodily damage could be of many different magnitudes.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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I would like to know :
(1) how long does it take before a body decomposes? My daughter's body was buried on March 18, 2003 and she was embalmed . (2) How much blunt force does it take to kill an intoxicated person? Is the death a quicker?

These questions are very complex and without specifics, I can only relate general answers.
An embalmed body decomposes at different rates depending on the ambient temperature, other factors, and burial Encasement.
When one considers a blunt force injury that causes death, you must look at what was the force caused by,the velocity, and location of the injury. An example would be that a blunt force to the abdomen, would be different than a blunt force to the chest area. Or a blow to the abdomen. I apologize for the lack of specifics, but without further information I am unable surmise the decomposition or force involved.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My daughter was brutally abused and then murdered in a way I know of anyone else ever being murdered. As she was trying to hide from her perpertraters she hid in a exhaust duct.........they did not tell her she would fall from the fourth roof if she moved three feet. She feel fortyfive feet down a toxic oily exhaust duct to land on top of the top of an exhaust hood in a kitchen....ie wok deep fat fryer and grill. This duct was connected to two other restaurants. They did not turn off the stoves and "business went on as usual" they waited over twenty minutes to call for emergency help and then called the fire dept. back and told them they had gotten her out and to go away .......they then called back dispatch and fire dept to say they were in need of help and had no idea how to get her out ......she was two months pregnant and she kept telling them that..... there are 911 calls missing ..what are my rights ..........they knew I had a lawyer...........yet after granting me a session with the emergency help that spent the last two hours of her life with them, they sent me a letter telling me I was not to speak to any person who worked for the government. What rights do I have to get the emergency correspondence......do I have to go through a subpena? Also though cause is "undetermined" they say she died of hyperthormea and of respotory distress....there was one drop of urine left in her ......is that enough to test. They had accesses to her face.........if they gave her water .........air .......and emergency had been called sooner do you think she could still be alive ?(not to mention not turning the stoves off) she was alive until the last second when they finally got her out. Two hour of having every pour in your body clogged with toxic used cooking oil the heat .......... why would they not give her air awater cooling agents i don't get it! Please respond. I am not suing any govern, mental agency I just want too know hat happened.

I am sorry to hear about your loss. A 45 foot fall would be devastating to anyone and would create life threatening injuries to your head and body. People use other methods to test beside urine, so urine is not necessary. I don’t really understand how someone would no request assistance for someone who fell 45 feet. One does not give water to a victim of trauma ,especially if she is or was unconscious . You do have access to all the run reports under the freedom of information act. If you can supply more information , I will be able to give you more specifics.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My teenage daughter was murdered by her mentally ill boyfriend. Baseball bat. She died from blunt force trauma. I was told he hit her in the head about 5 times. Later I learned he hit her arm first and knocked her down, then hit her head (around the forehead). I know I can never know EXACTLY what happened or what she felt (and I will never dishonor her by looking at the crime scene photos). But I can't help but think OVER AND OVER what did she feel? I was told by police and funeral director that he didn't hit her face or other parts (but they may be trying to protect me, I don't know). My question for you is: When one is beaten with a bat (I think it was wooden), how much do they feel? Do they go into shock? How much suffering from blunt force trauma to the head? Would she have been rendered unconscious from the first blow? After 5 blows, would her head be totally caved in on that side? I was told it happened fast and I believe she died very quickly.

I am sorry to hear about your loss. The initial blow to the arm would have been painful. After the initial and multiple strikes to the Head she would have been unconscious and not felt the blows. She would have been bleeding into her head , thus causing her death. She would Not have been in what physicians call shock. Because of the perpetrators mental condition, one will never know what precipitated his violent actions . People that are schizophrenic have episodes at times called psychotic breaks which can lead them to these actions, and some never have a recollection of what transpired. He will always have schizophrenia, which will be helped by medications, but never cured. I hope this was of some help. Feel free to contact me with any Further questions.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My 19 year old niece was murdered in December 2008. I have just been given access to the autopsy report. There is a summary of what a witness stated happened: according to the witness, my niece’s boyfriend sat on top of her and used his forearm pressed against her neck to strangle her. She was a very petite young woman.
The actual findings state that she appears to have been strangled in such a way that allowed blood into brain, but not back out.
My hope is that she passed out fairly quickly….I am not sure that is the case though. Please tell me how long it would take for her to stop suffering with this kind of killing…..I really need to know. Thanks in advance for your response.

Strangulation deaths are a result of hypoxia, lack of oxygen. The blood flow is secondary to the above condition. One goes unconscious very Quickly and is unaware of anything when this occurs. This usually occurs in a few minutes and she would have been free of any pain at this time. I am sorry about your loss.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My son Conrad was 25 years old, 6' 250 lbs., ...A father, a son, friend.. and loved his life soo much...he was never in gangs, rather he was a god fearing man...lived a good life...
Conrad, he was jumped by a gang of about 10 cowardess thugs who have no regard for human life...he was heinously, murdered, stabbed, in his heart, he was at the wrong place, wrong time...the DA said he had been drinking as well. The report says his alcohol level was over .2...he was sliced on his arms in a defensive motion, they held him down and Jovani Muniz got on top of him and ran that blade through his heart...after he was stabbed he tried to run, bleeding profusely...but only stumbled, he got only about 75 feet from where these people stabbed him, where he died in a pool of blood, cardiac arrest...the EMS took him to Denver Health and Hospitals where they got a heart beat and pulse...after about 3 or so hours a nurse came to tell us that he was going into ICU...critical condition...10-15 minutes later she ran back in to tell us he was bleeding profusely...and it did not look good...we, after being told he would live...sank back into an even deeper nightmare...he died 6 times on the operating table..and finally succombed... to his wounds... I truly feel as if I have been murdered as well, but I have to live my sons murder, and my murder.....everyday... for the rest of my life...thank you.

I am sorry to hear about your loss. After a stabbing in the chest/heart your blood pressure drops almost immediately due to blood loss and your body Goes into a “fight or flight” type state focusing on staying alive. The adrenaline release in your body helps one tolerate the pain. After the initial blow you begin to lose consciousness Very quickly and subsequently are pain free. After getting to the hospital a tube is placed for your breathing and you are sedated, thus being pain Free. The alcohol in ones system also helps in decreasing the pain by the effects it has on your cognition.
I think all in all , his pain initially was significant when stabbed, but quickly began to loose his awareness of the situation. I have treated individuals with gun shot wounds to the chest , and have only the recollection of the initial pain, but nothing after.
I hope I have been of some help. Feel free to contact me if you have any further questions.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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My 17 year old son was shot with a single gunshot to the right temporal fossa region in San Francisco,Ca in1990. He was intubated in the field with a Glasgow Coma Score of 4. The CT scan showed bullet fragments in the brain stem and hypothalamus. The bullet was recovered in the cerebral peduncle. Following CT scan on the night he was shot; doctor's informed us that there was no brain activity and he was "brain dead" March 9th, 1990. They also informed us of the grave prognosis and that he should be removed from life support. They also said that the state could allow them to remove him because of brain death. The next day after much pressure by physicians in charge we reluctantly agreed to take him off life support. We were not allowed to be present when the apnea test was given. The death summary stated that clinical brain death was declared at 10:15am on March 10, 1990? Why were we pressured to remove him from life support so soon? I didn't have the chance to get a second opinion; which I would have done as I was working in the medical field at the time. Why were we not allowed to be present during apnea test? Why was he declared clinically brain dead on March 10 as opposed to March 9 following CT scan when it was told to us? I would appreciate any answers you can give me regarding these questions as they have weighed heavily in my mind

With a Glasgow coma scale of 4 upon arrival , and this type of injury he was close to death on arrival and his chance of  recovering would have been essentially none. The apnea test is quite simple , in that they remove him from the ventilator and see if he is breathing on his own. I don't knowwhy they didn't allow you to observe.  Routinely patients families are not present when we perform these tests. With these injuries  my recommendations would probably have been similar. The chances of survival with these injuries are essentially none. He probably lost consciousness right after the injury and did not experience any pain.

-Dr. Greg Fuller

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