Symes called to testify in 'suitcase murder' trial

Mercyhurst College forensic anthropologist Steven A. Symes, Ph.D., a leading expert on skeletal trauma, dismemberment and mutilation, is expected to take the stand Wednesday, March 14, as an expert witness for the prosecution in what has been dubbed the “suitcase murder” trial of a New Jersey woman.

Melanie McGuire, a 34-year-old fertility clinic nurse, is accused of drugging, fatally shooting and dismembering her husband, William T. McGuire, in April 2004.

Authorities also charge that McGuire stashed the victim’s dismembered remains in three designer suitcases and dumped them in Chesapeake Bay. The McGuire trial began March 5 in Superior Court in New Brunswick, the courtroom packed with members of the media, including “Court TV” and reporters from three television news magazines.

Symes’ unique expertise is in saw and knife mark analysis of bone, and is the focus of a large part of his research with the Mercyhurst Archaeological Institute. In the past 15 years, he has provided analysis of cut marks in roughly 200 dismemberment cases and 500 knife wound cases, and is frequently called to testify on his findings.

In 2005, Symes was asked by the medical examiner’s office in New Jersey to analyze the cut marks on leg and back bones of the murder victim to determine the class of tool used in the dismemberment. He is expected to relate his conclusions on the witness stand Wednesday.

Release date: March 13, 2007


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