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Thread: True Crime case Arsenic, Copper and Chromium

  1. #1 True Crime case Arsenic, Copper and Chromium 
    Pia
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    Hi everyone!
    Please forgive me for the long post; I just want to give as much information as possible.
    This past year I became interested in a trial that was taking place live on Court TV.
    A woman was accused of poisoning her husband with arsenic.
    There was no link to her to arsenic. No research, purchase, speaking of, etc. Nothing.
    During the trial, the defense brought in a witness that was originally contacted by the prosecution. When he told her (prosecutor) his opinion, she decided not to use him. His name is Alphonse Poklis, a well-respected toxicologist from Virginia.
    In his testimony he said that the man was not sick enough to have this much arsenic. He was not hospitalized, worked everyday and the last weekend of his life, he spent it at an amusement park with his family, riding rollercoaster’s from testimony.

    The levels in his liver were 1020 times over the normal amounts and 230 times more than normal in the kidney. All other organ samples had normal amounts. There was no damage of any organs upon autopsy. In fact, for more than a year the death certificate said the man died of cardiac arrhythmia. They decided after fifteen months to send the organ samples to the environmental section (instead of forensics) of AFIP labs. This lab was not accredited, had never done tests on human tissue before and had all new equipment, never used that they used for the liver and kidney. The other tissues were sent later and tested normal.
    In Dr. Poklis’ testimony, he said that there were elevated levels of copper and chromium as well as arsenic. But only in the kidney and liver.
    There has been speculation this past year about the samples being contaminated somewhere between the time they took them and tested them. I must note also that there were sixteen breaks in the chain of custody of the first samples.
    My question is what would make arsenic, chromium, and copper show up in tissue samples like that?
    Dr. Poklis testified that he was confused with the copper elevation..
    I have read about the wood treatments but I am wondering if there is anything else?

    Thank you for your time and patience...


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  3. #2  
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    This case actually went to trial? What a travesty.


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  4. #3 Re: True Crime case Arsenic, Copper and Chromium 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pia
    My question is what would make arsenic, chromium, and copper show up in tissue samples like that?...
    Speculation:

    I've googled a bit and it looks as though copper, chromium, and arsenic are tested in a single test, and also are used in conjunction with one another in wood treatments (as you mention). The reason that chromium and copper may have shown up, then, is simply because they were looked for as part of a standard assay for arsenic (CCA assay). That they did show up may suggest a treated lumber source rather than some other source (such as intentional poisoning).

    The liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body. If you ingest a toxin, it will likely be concentrated in the liver. This is why the liver might show high elevations when some other tissue doesn't. (It is also why pregnant women should not eat liver.) It may be that the kidneys play a similar role, as they are involved with waste excretion. It is not surprising that liver and kidneys show elevated levels and the other organs don't.

    My guess is that he had occupational exposure to treated lumber or CCA fumes during lumber treatment or incineration. There is a fair amount on the web about CCA lawsuits.
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  5. #4  
    Pia
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    Thank you for your responses.
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  6. #5  
    Pia
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    Maybe someone can help me understand this.
    When AFIP (lab that "found" the arsenic) did speciation to find out what type of arsenic it was they came up with 100%DMA. Then the defense experts said that it was impossible to only have dma. Is that the case?
    If not can someone explain how it would show up as 100% DMA?


    Thanks
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