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Sunday, July 29th, 2018
Murder Trial Part II

If you haven’t read part one and you want to, click here

I left off last time having talked about the procedure of the courtroom and what I’d learned. Now I’ll move on to the evidence.

The first person on the stand that I got to see was the assistant coroner. She got asked a lot of questions about her experience and her qualifications to testify, and then the questions turned to the body. They showed pictures of the body on a monitor, which was facing the jury so I couldn’t see it that well.

It was already established that Jason had emptied the magazine of his automatic pistol into Sparky. I can’t tell you what caliber, but I believe it was probably a .9 mm or a .45. I believe he fired eight shots total.

According to the coroner’s testimony, the first bullet went into her left shoulder at an angle. That’s the shot that killed her, going to her heart. After that, she was shot seven more times in the back.

After discussing the wounds and the likely order of them and which killed Sparky, it was time to move on to the cops who first on the scene. Jason was waiting outside for them. They secured him, and went inside. They found Sparky facedown sort of slumped up against the back of the couch.

The prosecutor now had one of the detectives lay up against the Judge’s stand (I don’t really know what that’s called) to demonstrate to the jury. The cop adjusted the detective until the scene imitated how he’d found Sparky.

Next he was asked about her body. In one hand she was clutching two children’s backpacks so tight that they had to be pried from her hand, and her other hand she held the knife that Jason claimed she tried to kill him with. The knife released easily from her fingers, which were loose on the handle. Her phone was found on the counter.

Then the prosecutor asked about the brass ejected from the gun. My understanding of the layout is this: A short hallway led from the front door to a room that was open concept. On the left was the kitchen with an island and the refrigerator was on the left as you walked in, blocking the immediate view of the kitchen. On the right was a pony wall with a computer set up in front of it, and directly ahead was the living room area with the couch where Sparky’s body was found.

Brass was found on the keyboard, on top of the fridge, and then littered around the kitchen floor.

The defense then asked whether the officer had made a mistake by removing the knife from the scene before the detective arrived and whether he thought the officer thought he’d tampered with the scene (there were no pictures of the knife in her hand).

Next is was the investigating detective’s turn. He was sworn in and asked about his report being correct and all that stuff I mentioned in my first post. He was then asked what he saw when he came on scene. I don’t remember if the body had been removed by then or not. I want to say no.

But the prosector focused a lot on the knife. The knife block with all the knives was produced, and then the knife that Sparky was supposed to have attacked Jason with. The last was a serrated breadknife with a very sharp inch-long or more point. It was established that these knives belonged to Jason. The defense queried about the fact that the knife was dirty, and indicated that before Sparky was supposed to have grabbed it, it had been used for cutting bread and so was on the island, not in the block.

This last was important because to get to the block, she’d have had to cross the kitchen, reach under the cabinet to the back of the block to get the knife. On the island, it was much more accessible to her.

Next they showed a video of the house interior and exterior. This, apparently, is common protocol in a murder investigation. Everything is filmed to establish where things were and where they weren’t. The body had been removed by this time. As he walked through the house and filmed, the detective indicated where certain pieces of furniture were and where rooms were. One thing they made a point of was that the gun safe was in another room.

So at this point, they dismissed the detective and called another detective, specializing in forensic sound and cybernetics. This is where I learned that Sparky had recorded her murder.

Next time: The recording.

Monday, July 16th, 2018
Murder Trial Part 1

I had occasion to attend a portion of a murder trial a couple months ago. My husband had to testify, called by the prosecution. More on that later.

A man was on trial for murdering his estranged wife on February 14, 2017. I remember that date because my husband had his wisdom teeth out that day, and we got the news the next morning just before I headed out for the Rainforest Writers Village, a writing retreat.

Why did we get the news? The accused (now convicted), named Jason, was a former coworker of my husband’s and they’d been talking about his situation over the previous months. Jason was in the middle of a bitter divorce with two young children in the middle (both under 10, I believe). He was frequently upset with his wife who he claimed was abusing the kids. He talked to my husband fairly regularly about it. My husband told him to document everything, and to work with the police and his lawyer. Jason claimed that her parents were willing to testify on his behalf in a custodial hearing, and he claimed that his wife’s boyfriend’s ex-wife was also concerned that Sparky (the murder victim) was abusing her kid and was talking to the police.

So we were feeling pretty sympathetic to his situation, given this information.

And then he killed her. Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016
Other Interesting ‘Found’ Research

Today I found out that they use liquid nitrogen at my husband’s worksite. He’s a machinist and they use the liquid nitrogen to shrink the metal enough to slide it inside a hole and when it heats back up, it expands and is a press fit. I had no idea that it could be available at places like this. I don’t know what I might use that bit of information for in books, but I like it.

Friday, September 2nd, 2016
Poisons

For no particular reason, I started looking at poisons today. I figure it’s something I’ll stash in the back of my head for future writing use.

The one I discovered today is Thallium Nitrate, which is odorless, colorless and tasteless. It’s a heavy metal. It cause hair to fall out, vomiting, organ failure, and general system failure, plus causes a burning/prickling sensation in the limbs. It will kill you in a high dose, but in low doses, it’s a slow road to death. There’s no antidote for it, and if caught soon enough, you can survive. It can be found by blood, urine, and hair. It leaves the blood pretty quickly, though, so if the blood test is all there is, then it might not get discovered.

I thought it could be a pretty good poison for a poisoner. Especially if it can be put into food. Be good for someone who wanted to cause a slow, diminishing death.

The stuff was used in the 50s in rat poison.

I’ll probably talk about more poisons in general. I find them interesting. I’m working on some murder/suspense stuff that could benefit from this sort of info.

In the meantime, I’ve a bunch of roses to plant and the weather is fine and the puppy boys are happy. Been reading Lexi George’s Demon Hunters books and they are frequently very fun. Just like candy, and funny urban fantasy romance.

Friday, June 12th, 2015
Some word meanings in Path of Fate

I dug this up recently. It’s my worksheet for names in the Path books. You’ll notice that Kebonsat’s name was originally Nomaksat. My editor didn’t care for that name and so I came up with something more workable. Kegonsat doesn’t have any specific meaning. I didn’t use all these and some I modified. But I figured you might want to see some of the background on the books.

I wanted names for Kodu Riik and Patverseme that were linguistically close, but unique. I drew words for each country from Latvian and Estonian dictionaries, and did some modifications to make them work for me as I went. Some stuff is straight out made up, but a lot wasn’t.

path word meanings

Friday, February 1st, 2013
Krista Ball is talking Pig Intestines, Sausage, and Condoms

Please welcome back the wonderful Krista Ball:

Pig intestines, Sausage, and Condoms: Making Dinner

Sometimes, a gal just gotta try something new. For many, it’s knitting. For others, it’s learning how to change a tire. Me? It’s stuffing pig intestines.

Traditional sausages are stuffed into intestines. Today, we run the meat through a grinder and stuff it into casings. So I wanted to give this a try the pre-industrial way.

First, I had to “grind” my own meat. Without a grinder, electricity, and/or servants, that meant I was doing it by hand. Since I buy a Berkshire pig every year from a local family, I asked them to include some intestines for me. They laughed, but said sure. They even had them salted and included the instructions on how to use and reuse them (whew!).

kings ateI took 1 pound of pork belly (it’s normally used for making strip bacon) and chopped it as finely as I could. Then, the meat was pounded with a mortar and pestle until my hands cramped (about an hour of cutting and pounding). Time for stuffing!

Let me just get this part out of the way: In pulling the intestine off the plastic rod it was on, I really understood why they had been used for condoms for centuries. The shape, texture, and size are perfect. Just tie a ribbon around the top to hold it in place and let the fun times begin.

It was rather creepy.

So after I wrestled the intestine opening, I stuff it with the pork-onion-parsley mixture. It didn’t take long before it started to look like something else. Thank heavens I didn’t have a dark meat! Ick!

Here’s something I found interesting – the intestines didn’t tear. They’re quite tough. I suppose that’s obvious, considering what the poor things do inside the body, but I was surprised at how sturdy they were.

Oh, air bubbles? Squeezing those out totally sounded like farting! (Not that I did that. I did not play with my sausage at any point in this. Wait, erm…Oh forget it).

Afterwards, I boiled the sausage and served it up! Everyone loved it. In fact, the coarse texture turned out to be a selling point. Many people enjoyed it!

 

Recipe for the bold:

1 pound pork belly, chopped and pounded

1 onion, minced

½ bunch parsley, stems removed and leaves minced

Salt and pepper to taste

 

Mix the ingredients using your hands until well combined. Stuff the mixture into intestines. Remove air bubbles and tie off. Add to salted boiling water and cook for 30 (for crunchy onions) to 60 minutes (for completely soft). Serve hot or cold.

 

What’s the strangest food item you’ve eaten…and didn’t realize until after the fact!


A little while ago, I was asked to read with the possibility of blurbing Krista Ball’s new book, What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank. It is currently available in electronic form and will shortly be available in print form. I LOVE this book. It’s one of those that you read slowly to savor and mark up a bunch for notes. It’s not just excellent for researching books, but just learning cool stuff. I talked Krista into doing some blog posts here (twisted arm, whatever) and she kindly agreed (feared for her life).

A little bio:

According to her mother, Krista D. Ball tells lies for a living. She is the author of several short stories, novellas, and novels. Krista incorporates as much historical information into her work as possible, mostly to justify her student loan payments. Whenever she gets annoyed, she blows something up in her fiction. Regular readers of her work have commented that she is annoyed a lot.

A link to Krista’s publications.

Monday, August 20th, 2012
Today and Tomorrow

Tomorrow I start back to Montana. It should take two days. Actually I can do it in one, but I want to stop overnight and go to Costco before I go home. So I probably will.

On the really cool mystery front, this is about an Australian cold case that sounds fascinating. I wish I’d see it solved. Could be interesting for a story. Is it a murder? Is it a suicide? Was he a spy? And a book is the central clue. How cool is that?

next week I start back to school. Teaching that is. I have to go home and plan my class out some more. I have a tendency to change it up and so I’m going to. It will be easy this fall to teach about logical fallacy though, what with political ads and speeches. I mean, do politicians have a list and check it twice to make sure that everything they say is a logical fallacy? Seems like it sometimes. Anyhow, it’s fertile ground for working with logic and reason. Or lack thereof. I love teaching students how to be critical of commercials. And news. And politicians. Pretty much everything, really.

Been reading the Wishcraft series by Heather Blake. I do enjoy it. It’s magical mystery and kind of a cozy.

I also have to research southern living, southern style, southern language, southern behavior . . . I’m thinking of southern here to mean Alabama/Georgia, maybe South Carolina. So if anybody has suggestions for movies, TV, documentaries, books, youtube, anything really, that would help with that, I’d love to hear. I may hit you up for more of that on a continuing basis. Seriously, anything you’ve got would be helpful. I’ve got some things, but I’m looking for more. Lots more.