If someone is poisoned then shot, how does the medical examiner determine what killed him?



You know those TV Shows / Movies where they see a bullet wound and think it was a gun then the medical examiner tells them that he was poisoned before being shot? How does he determine that?

In: Biology

I’m interested in this as well! I wonder if it is a test they do on the blood of the victim?

The metabolisation process ceases upon death. If the poison has spread to the brain and other vital organs then it had to have happened while the body was still living.

It depends….if someone was poisoned then died from being shot before the poison could kill them, cause of death would be the bullet wound despite the poisoning happening first.

Alternatively if someone is poisoned, then they die, then are shot, cause of death is the poison.

What it comes down to is the medical examiners know what signs to look for to determine cause of death, if you shoot a dead body, blood isn’t exactly going to be pumping out of it because the heart has already stopped. I’m not medically trained so I don’t know exactly what they look for, but the way blood pools in the body is going to be different if the blood is escaping through a bullet wound vs having been shot after their heart stopped.

In short, biological processes are affected differently based on what caused the body to stop working. Medical examiners find as many signs as they can within the body, and use all that information to determine what most likely caused the body to cease functioning, even when multiple potential causes of death are present.

Some body operations stop upon death. The simplest example is breathing. If someone is found in water, but there is no water in the lungs, they weren’t breathing underwater, meaning they didn’t drown. If someone was in a fire, but has no soot in the lungs, they were dead before the fire.

For your example, certain things that happen when a dead body is shot compared to when a live body is shot. For example, you lose more blood if you are shot while living, because your heart is still pumping, and you lose some blood before dying. If you were poisoned first, you lose less blood.

Poison affect more than one part of the body while gunshot is restricted to one area.

If somebody is poisoned, then shot in the chest, other organs will shows signs of the poison, too. The death is determined by which one (poison or gunshot) caused important organs/system to stop working first.

Regardless of which, somebody must really hate you to made sure that if the gunshots didn’t get you, the poison will.

Wow though.

Legally both the attackers would go to jail for a long time. If two or more people work together to kill someone, that’s a conspiracy.

In real life, the shooter will definitely go to jail. Unlike on TV, no bloodwork might be done.