Autopsy gives details about Grant Avenue man's death

PERKINS TWP. A laundered shirt may prevent authorities from unraveling how close the gun was to Gera
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



A laundered shirt may prevent authorities from unraveling how close the gun was to Gerald Gilliam's body when the trigger was pulled.

Witness accounts couldn't be substantiated by the autopsy because the shirt Gilliam was wearing when he was shot July 7 was accidentally sent to Firelands Regional Medical Center's laundry facility.

According to the autopsy, Gilliam was killed by a bullet that ripped through his liver, pancreas and arteries as it exited the left side of his body.

His neighbor, Andrew D. Johnson, 59, was indicted earlier this month in his slaying on charges of murder, voluntary manslaughter and involuntary manslaughter.

Hospital personnel cut off Gilliam's shirt after he was admitted and later laundered it, according to the police report. The autopsy report stated that without the victim's clothing, there was "no evidence of close range firing of skin."

According to Dr. James Patrick, Lucas County coroner, clothing can yield details pertaining to a shooting, including powder burns and soot.

"If you see nothing on the skin and the patient was wearing clothing, all of the evidence for the range of fire may be on the clothing," he said.

Patient clothing is not normally laundered at Firelands Regional Medical Center, according to Marcia Renande, hospital spokeswoman.

"All their clothing and personal items are given to the patient or their family," she said. "In this particular incident, this patient's shirt was inadvertently gathered up in the bed linens and they did not know it and it was sent out for laundry."

The shirt has since been recovered and turned over to police for testing. The laundered shirt is not expected to hinder the case, said Perkins police Chief Tim McClung.

"There's multiple pieces of evidence involved in the case, that was just one piece," he said.

The autopsy, performed by the Lucas County Coroner's office, also revealed Gilliam died exactly five hours after he was wounded. The .2-inch diameter bullet wound caused massive intra-abdominal hemorrhaging and 38 units of blood were used by doctors to try to save Gilliam. But extensive damage to his organs and vessels could not be repaired.

Gilliam's blood-alcohol level was 0.15 percent, deemed "acute alcohol intoxication" and considered a significant condition in the report. A police report said Johnson had a blood-alcohol level of .214 percent at the time of arrest.

"The five-hour time interval between the time the deceased was shot and death means that the concentrations of ethanol detected is lower than at the time of altercation," the report said.

Additionally, two drug tests returned negative results. Other injuries noted on Gilliam's 6-foot-tall, 253-pound frame were two bruises on the back of his left hand and a laceration on the left side of his face.