After arrest, Hank was taken to a hospital where he gave blood samples. The tests run on these samples provided startling results. They indicated a blood alcohol level, at the time of the murders, of 0.21%. The samples were taken six and a half hours after the alleged time of the murders and it was proven at trial that Hank could not have drunk at his neighbor’s house – she was a recovering alcoholic who allowed no alcohol on her premises under any circumstances.
More significant than this, the blood tests later proved that the codeine level in Hank’s blood at the time of the murders was 0.44gms per 100ml. Hank is severely allergic to codeine, a condition that has been represented in his medical reports since the age of 17 [he is now 42] This allergy induces lethargy, delirium and hallucination – it also makes Hank “deathly ill”.
Dr. William Lowry, an expert in forensic toxicology, stated that Hank was in too deep a state of unconsciousness at the time of the murders to have been capable of movement, let alone murder.Dr. Lowry’s important discoveries and conclusions:
Dr. Lowry stated that the alcohol alone “would cause mental confusion, disorientation, dizziness, disturbances of sensations….impaired balance, staggering gait….”. That level of codeine, on its own, would place a person in “a sedation state, codeine is a narcotic, it’s a sedative, makes one sleepy and all central nervous systems would have slowed down, everything would have been slow. So, normally a person would be in a pretty deep sleep.”
Dr. Lowry was able to confirm earlier testimony that, at 9:30 that evening Hank would indeed have been “comatose” or “unconscious and not being able to be aroused by any external stimuli.”
At midnight, the doctor stated Hank would have been in a “stuporous state.” In this state “The majority of people would be asleep, but the stupor state may be awake or asleep.”
Hank Skinner shortly after arrest. His deeply inhibitative codeine/alcohol intoxication is plainly evident – he is having difficulty standing and the officer on the far right is clearly needing to hold him upright.
The doctor stated that pharmacologically and neurologically it was “Highly improbable” that Hank could have inflicted the constituent injuries of the three murders. They “would have required considerable thought, considerable amount of energy and considerable co-ordination….. [the] individual in a stuporous state would be exerting primarily most of the energy trying to stand, or walk, much less trying to co-ordinate any instruments of — giving a lethal blow with that instrument.”
Additionally, in his testimony, Dr. Lowry states that the positioning of the hand-prints found around the crime scene, and attributed to Hank, would be consistent with someone stumbling around and suffering the effects of a stuporous state of intoxication. “… in a stuporous state, a person would require holding onto something to maintain an upright position; not all the time a person is successful and they will be in a prone position and they would require a little more…assistance grabbing onto things to get back into the upright position.”
Furthermore, he stated that it would be highly common for an individual in a stuporous state to accumulate the blood of other individuals lying in his path as he made his way. “in an environment as you described [the crime scene] it would require some manoeuvering not to get the blood combined from one person to another, if a person was moving about. A person in a stuporous state is moving at…far more exaggerated, and variable directions.” Both these statements directly support Hank’s assertions that he accumulated the blood and left the hand-prints as he stumbled to escape the house.
Dr. Glenn Larkin MD, forensic pathologist states:
“I do believe that if Skinner had eight (8) times a therapeutic dose of codeine in his system when the blood for testing was drawn, and he had no opportunity to re-dose himself at Reeds home, the level at the putative time of the murders was considerably higher, probably at or near the lethal level.”
“Note: if the codeine was legitimately obtained – that is generically or by brand name, as codeine sulfate or phosphate, only three dose tablets are available – 15, 30 and 60 mg. Any one of these could be a 2 “therapeutic” dose. “Eight” therapeutic doses could therefore be 120mg, 240mg or 480mg, the last of which by itself near fatal. The minimal dose possible 120 mg is already by itself near the toxic level.”
“This does not take into account the alcohol level; the codeine potentiates the alcohol, and the alcohol slows down the metabolism of codeine, so that the effect of both is greater than the blood level would indicate.
“The alprazolam (Xanax – dose unknown) was not measured in the blood. If actually present, it would act synergistically with both drugs to prolong their effect.”
This combination of drugs would severely curtail Skinner’s ability to perform and might very well cause him to be stuporous-comatose, in the strict sense of these terms. It would no doubt make him temporarily impotent, making identification of any seminal stains that more crucial to his defense. By itself, I am not impressed by the 0.21 mg/dl ethanol level; mixed with codeine it acts synergistically, and can be fatal, or close to it.
“Even with many parameters unknown, i.e. Mr. Skinner’s individual rate of elimination of all three drugs, a conservative estimate, giving the state the widest benefit possible, would without a doubt indicate blood levels of the three drugs at near fatal concentrations, more so in concert one with the other. To allege that Skinner with this stuporous cocktail in his body was able to form intent, and carry out the complex and precision movements necessary to kill three people, while at the same [time] consider Twila Busby so drunk as to prevent her active defense with ethanol levels lower than his, is a double standard, and a presumption the state cannot legitimately make. This also holds true for Elwin Caler and Randy Busby…… A sober Elwin Caler would be able to defend himself, considering the size differential between Skinner and him, as well as sobriety vs. intoxication. The same holds true for Randy, who was allegedly killed in his bed.
While there is a reduced certainty in these pronouncements, I do believe that if the missing data is found, these interpretations will be validated, qualitatively if not quantitatively.
The gut reaction is that Skinner was too intoxicated to have done these murders, but gut reactions do not cut ice. ….. The loss of bladder control – [Hank had passed water involuntarily] is a sign of severe intoxication. The problem there is to prove that Skinner was in fact intoxicated, and that he was on the detoxifying side of the curve when that happened (This is intuitively so). I do not know if that can be proven with the material [now] at hand. If it can, it will support Skinner’s claim that he was too intoxicated to commit the murders.
Of the fact that Hank had involuntarily urinated on his pants leg, Dr. Larkin states “By noting this, it tends to corroborate your claim of being totally out of it at the time this occurred.”
Dr. Larkin concludes by saying:
“I would agree in most part with Dr. Lowry. Given the parameters …, I cannot understand how the state arrived at their conclusions that a zombie would be able to kill three people in the manner described. The theory that another person could have done the murders is legitimate prima fascie.”