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Coins as Intermediate Targets: Reconstructive Analysis With Synthetic Body Models

Thali, Michael J. MD*†; Kneubuehl, Beat P. PhD; Rodriguez, William R. PhD*; Smirniotopoulos, James G. MD; Richardson, A Charles DDS§; Fowler, David MD; Godwin, Michael*; Jurrus, Aaron*; Fletcher, Douglas PhD‡§; Mallak, Craig MD*

The American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology: June 2009 - Volume 30 - Issue 2 - p 159-161
doi: 10.1097/PAF.0b013e318187df63
Original Article

The phenomenon of intermediate targets is well known in wound ballistics. In forensic science, models are used to reconstruct injury patterns to answer questions regarding the dynamic formation of these unusual injuries. Soft-tissue substitutes or glycerin soap and ordnance gelatin have been well established. Recently, based on previous experiences with artificial bone, a skull-brain model was developed. The goal of this study was to create and analyze a model-supported reconstruction of a real forensic case with a coin as an intermediate target. It was possible not only to demonstrate the “bullet-coin interaction,” but also to recreate the wound pattern found in the victim. This case demonstrates that by using ballistic models, gunshot cases can be reproduced simply and economically, without coming into conflict with ethical guidelines.

From the *Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC/Rockville, MD; †Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Bern, CH-3012 Berne, Switzerland; ‡Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD; §National Naval Medical Center, Department of Radiology, Bethesda, MD; and ¶Offices of the Medical Examiner of the State Maryland, Baltimore, MD.

Manuscript received July 27, 2007; accepted November 15, 2007.

The opinions and assertions contained herein are the private views of the authors and are not to be construed as official or reflecting the views of the Department of the Army or the Department of Defense.

Reprints: Michael J. Thali, MD, University of Bern, Institute of Forensic Medicine, IRM–Buehlstrasse 20, CH-3012 Berne, Switzerland. E-mail:

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.