Famous Forensic Pathologist, Cyril Wecht, Speaks in Erie - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

Famous Forensic Pathologist, Cyril Wecht, Speaks in Erie

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A man who's become world famous for his involvement in high profile murder trials is in Erie. The acclaimed Dr. Cyril Wecht  spoke for UPMC Hamot's "Research Days" series at the Blasco Library to a full house on Wednesday night.

Wecht is both a doctor and lawyer, but perhaps best known for his work in forensic pathology. He's worked on OJ Simpson's case, the death of JonBenet Ramsey,  the Laci Peterson murder, the death of Elvis, to name just a few. But the case Wecht finds compelling above all is the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

"It is the most interesting because the basic facts are still very much in dispute. How many gunshot wounds were there, what was the sequence and trajectory, was he shot by more than one assailant," Wecht said. "It remains a great  forensic scientific mystery to this day."

Wecht's lecture focused mainly on the arguably bungled forensic analysis of the President's body, a subject he addresses in multiple books. It also serves as a prime example of how forensics and medicine can merge - the theme of this the 2014 Research Days.

"He's a fascinating speaker and I think it definitely demonstrates the innovation taking place in terms of research. All these different forensic cases, he's a great guest to have in our city," said Dr. Mark Terrell, a member of the audience on Wednesday.

UPMC selected Wecht as this year's keynote speaker to show compelling research can be, and to bring a speaker that everyone in the community could enjoy.

"It's very exciting and extreme," said Dr. Justine Schober, director of academic research at UPMC, referring to Wecht's degrees in both law and medicine. "But it surely gives him a very comprehensive take on forensics. And for that, we're also very grateful because he shows us a very broad aspect of forensics that we might not otherwise see."

"Most physicians you see, know nothing about the law. That's understandable, just like how most lawyers know nothing about medicine. But the point is, that the two professions meet very frequently in ways that are unpredictable," Wecht said.

The two seem to most often meet when crime is also in the mix. Wecht has loaned his expertise and helped solve thousands of cases, performing more than 14,000 autopsies throughout his career - including 400 just last year.

He's confident that the Kennedy case will be solved, but not certain on when.

"When I was younger, I used to think it would be resolved in my lifetime. Now, regrettably, I must be honest with myself. I don't think it's going to be resolved now in the next few, several years," Wecht said.  " I do believe that one day, in another generation or so, it will be (solved) when more of the records are released and when the government finally decides there's no purpose in withholding information any longer."

Wecht has also authored more than 15 books. His newest one, "Final Exams" is out for Kindle now and will be on the shelves next month.

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