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Barr ripped for calling Epstein death a suicide: He’s ‘prone to making quick pronouncements’

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Attorney General Bill Barr’s statement concluding Jeffrey Epstein committed suicide is highly suspicious, a former federal homicide prosecutor explained on MSNBC on Saturday.

Anchor Kendis Gibson interviewed former Assistant U.S. Attorney Glenn Kirschner following news that Epstein was found dead in his cell at the Manhattan Correctional Center.

“You know, Kendis, 22 of my 30 years as a prosecutor I handled murder cases and what I will say is that I don’t think anybody should jump to conclusions. I’ve seen so many homicides that look like one thing and turn out to be something else. For example, if we find a dead body in a house fire, we assume it was an accident until we find that the person may have been manually strangled, murdered before the house was set on fire to cover it up,” Kirschner explained.

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“I’m not suggesting this was anything other than a suicide, but I was a little bit surprised when I heard AG Barr jump right out there and make a snap decision saying, ‘this is an apparent suicide and I’m appalled.’ I mean, that’s ordinarily not how law enforcement acts,” he noted.

“What we typically say is Jeffrey Epstein was found dead in his cell, pending an autopsy and a full investigation, we have no further comment at this time,” he continued. “So you know — and some might say A.G. Barr has been prone to making quick pronouncements without having all the facts previously and hasn’t always been accurate — so I don’t think we can say definitively what this was, nor do I think we should speculate that it was nefarious and it was something that was made to look like a suicide.”

Kirschner explained why the autopsy is so important.

“What we need to do is investigate. Importantly, we need the autopsy results to see, for example, if the hyoid bone was fractured, which is a telltale sign of manual strangulation, but not necessarily a hanging suicide,” he explained.

Graphic showing the hyoid bone by OpenStax College via Wikimedia Commons.

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“I think there needs to be an investigation before the Attorney General starts to announce conclusions,” Kirschner concluded.

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Papua New Guinea bans travelers from all ‘Asian ports’

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Papua New Guinea shut air and seaports to all foreign travellers coming from Asia on Wednesday, in a desperate bid to prevent the deadly coronavirus from reaching the impoverished Melanesian nation.

In a note to airlines and boat operators, the ministry of immigration said "all citizens originating from the Asian ports will be refused entry to the country effective today".

The ministry also announced that Papua New Guinea's only official land border -- with Indonesian-controlled Papua province -- would be shut from Thursday.

No cases of coronavirus have been reported in Papua New Guinea, but the country's health service is already buckling under the weight of underfunding and rampant public health problems.

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Syria army says retakes key northwest town

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Syria government forces recaptured the strategic highway town of Maaret al-Numan from jihadist and allied rebels on Wednesday, the army said, returning for the first time in seven years.

"Our forces managed in the past few days to stamp out terrorism in many villages and towns," including Maaret al-Numan, an army spokesman said.

In 2011, Maaret al-Numan was one of the first towns in the northwestern province of Idlib to rise up against the Damascus government and the following year, it was captured by rebels fighting against President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

It lies on a key highway connecting the capital to second city Aleppo and has long been in the sights of the government.

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The only nationwide database of priests deemed credibly accused of abuse

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ProPublica published an interactive database on Tuesday that lets users search for clergy who have been listed as credibly accused of sexual abuse in reports released by Catholic dioceses and religious orders.

It is, as of publication, the only nationwide database of official disclosures. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the religious leaders’ national membership organization, does not publicly release any centralized, countrywide collection of clergy members who have been credibly accused of sexual assault.

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