Forensic expert: Impossible for handcuffed woman to strangle self in airport

David Edwards
Raw Story
Oct. 02, 2007

Dubious of the initial police report, CBS asks a forensic expert to explain if a woman who died in an airport holding cell could have strangled herself while handcuffed.

Forty-five year old Carol Anne Gotbaum, a mother of three young children, may have accidentally strangled herself while trying to get out of her handcuffs, Phoenix Police Department spokesman Sgt. Andy Hill said Saturday, CBS reports.

“According to investigators, it appeared as though Ms. Gotbaum had possibly tried to manipulate the handcuffs from behind her to the front, got tangled up in the process, and they ended up around her neck area,” Hill said.

However, "Attorney Michael Manning, who was hired by Gotbaum's family to monitor the police investigation, said it doesn't seem possible she could have killed herself."

"She was handcuffed behind her back and shackled to a table," Manning said. "It doesn't make sense that she could have physically managed to strangle herself."

According to a guest on CBS News's The Early Show, forensic pathologist Daniel J. Spitz, "It's really not conceivable that she would be able to use the handcuffs that are holding her hands behind her back to cause a compressive force to her neck," but the chain running from the cuffs to the bench might conceivably have done it. "The autopsy is going to need to be done to confirm there was a compressive force to neck and that the cause of death is asphyxiation. It is also going to need to exclude that drugs or alcohol played a role or she had some unknown natural disease which played a role."

The following video is from CBS's Early Show, broadcast on October 2.

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