Mere days after the Los Angeles Coroner’s Office issued its final autopsy report on the sudden death of bane-of-the-Left Andrew Breitbart (he died of “heart failure”), news came last Friday that a forensic criminalist at the L.A. County Coroner, Michael Cormier, had suddenly died from suspected arsenic poisoning.
In his article for WND, titled “Breitbart’s Coroner Poisoned to Death?,” Joe Kovacs writes: “Medical examiners in Los Angeles are investigating the possible poisoning death of one of their own officials who may have worked on the case of Andrew Breitbart.”
The Los Angeles Times reports, April 27, 2012, that 61-year-old Cormier, a forensic technician for the Los Angeles County Coroner, died “under mysterious circumstances” last week after being taken to Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank from his North Hollywood home. Earlier he had complained of pain and vomiting.
Hospital staff notified police about concerns surrounding the cause of Cormier’s death. Los Angeles police detectives, with the help of the L.A. County coroner’s office, are now investigating Cormier’s death. Officials said he might have died of poisoning, but they have not provided further information.
“At this point we haven’t ruled out foul play,” said Lt. Alan Hamilton of the Los Angeles Police Department. “It is one of the things being considered. We are waiting for the coroner’s results.”
Ed Winter, deputy chief coroner, said that Cormier’s autopsy has been performed but that a cause of death has been deferred pending further tests.
Investigators have also interviewed his family and friends. Messages left at the home Friday went unanswered.
Authorities have examined Cormier’s Auckland Avenue home for clues to the cause of his death. Sources said several hazardous materials experts and officers searched the small home looking for clues. The sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that finding the presence of poison does not necessarily mean the death was a homicide, because the substance could have accidentally entered his system. His death could also be related to his work or hobbies.
So what is a forensic technician?
A forensic science technician is also called a criminalist. This is what the State of California’s Employment Development Department says:
CRIMINALISTS (FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIANS)
California Occupational Guide Number 558
Interest Area: Scientific
WHAT DOES A CRIMINALIST (FORENSIC SCIENCE TECHNICIAN) DO?
Criminalistics is the forensic science of analyzing and interpreting evidence using the natural sciences. Forensic science pertains to all sciences applied to legal problems. CRIMINALISTS use the science of criminalistics to solve crimes. They examine and identify physical evidence to reconstruct a crime scene. Physical evidence can be a weapon, a piece of clothing, a bloodstain, drugs, or even a vapor in the air. Criminalists use this physical evidence to provide a link between a suspect and the victim. The transfer of clothing fibers or hair fibers between a suspect and the victim can provide just such a link. Fingerprints, bullets, and shoe impressions are other important links.
Physical evidence is collected from a crime scene that includes the victim’s body and the surrounding area of the crime. Criminalists collect physical evidence at crime scenes and receive evidence at the laboratory, which has been collected at the crime scene by crime scene investigators. The proper collection of evidence is essential to prevent contamination and destruction of the evidence. Once the evidence is brought to the crime lab, Criminalists conduct tests depending on the type of evidence. Criminalists are often called to court to provide expert testimony regarding their methods and findings.
O*NET typical tasks include the following:
- Examines, tests, and analyzes tissue samples, chemical substances, physical materials, and ballistics evidence, using recording, measuring, and testing equipment.
- Interprets laboratory findings and test results to identify and classify substances, materials, and other evidence collected at crime scene.
- Collects and preserves criminal evidence used to solve cases.
- Confers with ballistics, fingerprinting, handwriting, documents, electronics, medical, chemical, or metallurgical experts concerning evidence and its interpretation.
- Reconstructs crime scene to determine relationships among pieces of evidence.
- Prepares reports or presentations of findings, investigative methods, or laboratory techniques.
- Testifies as expert witness on evidence or laboratory techniques in trials or hearings.
Serology is the analysis of body fluid evidence that includes bloodstains, semen stains, and saliva. To determine the identity and origin of the substance, Criminalists analyze blood dried into fabrics or other objects, as well as cigarette butts that may contain saliva residues. Sometimes the stain is not visible to the naked eye. Blood is usually visible due to its color, but often an artificial forensic light source is necessary to see other body fluid evidence. The stained evidence must remain dry and be stored at a cold temperature to maintain its integrity.
DNA typing is possible with a sample of body fluid such as blood, saliva, or semen. DNA typing provides a Criminalist with a genetic blueprint that is unique to each person. Criminalists then try to match the DNA typing results with a suspect. Proper handling and storage is essential to preserve DNA test samples.
Trace evidence is the analysis of hairs, fibers, paint, glass, wood, and soil that are present at a crime scene. Examination of trace evidence helps to establish a relationship between a suspect and the victim. A fiber may be taken from the victim’s body revealing the type of fiber from carpet unique to the make and model of the suspect’s car. Once trace evidence is discovered, a Criminalist or other investigator collects the evidence from the crime scene by using a pair of jeweler’s tweezers and immediately places the evidence in a folded paper cone and then into a sealed evidence envelope. Trace evidence is later analyzed at the crime lab to determine its composition and origin.
Firearms and toolmarks analysis involves the examination of any firearm that is suspected of being used in a criminal act. Criminalists can determine the kind of bullet used and whether it was fired from the gun used to commit the crime. Toolmark analysis includes any object suspected of containing the impression of another object that served as a tool in the commission of a crime. For instance, a screwdriver makes a distinctive impression when scraped along the surface of a wall. A Criminalist will analyze the marks the screwdriver left behind.
Impression evidence is the evaluation of impressions made by shoes, tires, depressions in soft soils, and all other forms of tracks and impressions. Glove and other fabric impressions, as well as bite marks in skin or food, are included. Criminalists also obtain impressions of dust from surfaces to reveal fingerprints.
Drug identification is used by Criminalists to analyze and identify illegal substances such as cocaine, heroin, and marijuana, that are found in plastic bags or vials at crime scenes. Criminalists must interpret the results of drug analyses in order to determine their significance to the case.
The dictionary defines “coroner” as “A public officer whose primary function is to investigate by inquest any death thought to be of other than natural causes.” Therefore, calling criminalist (or forensic science technician) Michael Cormier, who worked for the L.A. County Coroner’s Office, a “coroner” is entirely appropriate.
Breitbart was the conservative power-house founder of the news aggregation site, Breitbart.com, and five other websites — Breitbart.tv, Big Hollywood, Big Government, Big Journalism, and Big Peace. He was only 43 years old.
Just days before his sudden death on March 1, Breitbart had vowed at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington that his organization would do the job of vetting Obama which the Establishment Media, Congress, and the Democratic and Republican Parties did not do in 2008.
The L.A. coroner’s final autopsy report that Breitbart had died from “heart failure” still does not rule out assassination. As explained by Fred Burks of Examiner.com, November 29, 2009, there is a way to induce heart attack via a poison dart. On penetration of the deadly dart, the individual targeted for assassination may feel as if bitten by a mosquito, or they may not feel anything at all. The dart can penetrate clothing and leave nothing but a tiny red dot on the skin. The dart completely disintegrates upon entering the target.
The lethal poison then rapidly enters the bloodstream causing a heart attack. Once the damage is done, the poison denatures quickly, so that an autopsy is very unlikely to detect that the heart attack resulted from anything other than natural causes.
And now, with criminalist or forensic science technician Michael Cormier’s sudden death from suspected arsenic poisoning, there is even more reason to wonder about Breitbart’s sudden “heart failure.’
H/t Tina & Terry.
UPDATE (May 9, 2012):
WND’s Joe Kovacs reports that L.A. Police Dept. spokesman says Cormier “had no connection whatsoever to the investigation into Breitbart’s death.” Ed Winters, a colleague of Cormier’s at the Coroners Office, also says the same thing.
UPDATE (FEB. 8, 2017):
Three days before the release of the final autopsy report, Michael Cormier, a forensics technician/criminalist at the L.A. Coroners Office died suddenly from massive organ failure. Six months later on October 29, 2012, the coroner’s office released its findings on Cormier’s official cause of death as “extremely high amounts of arsenic in his system”. Police detectives and hazardous-materials officers who had searched the one-bedroom home in North Hollywood where Cormier lived with his wife, Sharon, had found no traces of poison or a suicide note. (The Daily Beast)