Forensic Doctor Rules Out Suicide in Bender Case

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The defense of U.S. citizen, Ann Maxine Patton, on trial since Monday in Costa Rica on charges of murdering her husband, John Felix Bender, received a serious blow as a forensic doctor “ruled out,” the chance that her husband committed suicide. Bender died from a gunshot wound to the head.

In her initial testimony on Monday, Patton stated that she did not murder her husband, but rather that Bender had the gun to his own head, intending to take his life, and while attempting to take the gun from her husband, it fired, killing him.

The forensic doctor, Greichel Flores Sandi provided her statement to the Perez Zeledon court via video conference from her office in San Joaquin de Flores, Heredia. The doctor said that because of the trajectory of the bullet, it was impossible that Bender shot himself. The bullet that killed Bender entered the right side of his head, though Bender was left-handed.

“He had a gunshot wound in the right occipital region, that wound was six centimeters away (towards the right) from the middle line of the neck. We considered the possibility of access (with the left hand) that the victim had of holding the gun and shooting, in addition to the trajectory of the bullet,” said Flores.

However, when asked by the defense attorney, Fabio Oconitrillo, about the possibility of Bender shooting having shot the gun with his right hand, the doctor stated that she based her investigation on the fact that he was left-handed.

Patton said on Monday that she has had a neurologic illness for many years that does not permit her to manipulate firearms, among other disabilities.

However, doctor Flores stated yesterday that she performed a physical exam on Patton while she was hospitalized in CIMA Hospital on February 4th, 2012, almost a month after Bender’s death, and that Patton had no difficulty whatsoever in moving her hands and limbs.

“According to the physical exam that I performed, she had no functional deficit, she was able to move her upper limbs with no problem,” she said.

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