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PET and MRI-DTI and MRI quantitative volumetric detection of abnormalities consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, early severe childhood emotional abuse, and neglect in a homicide trial mitigation phase


Forensic Research & Criminology International Journal
Scholastica Go, Joseph Chong-Sang Wu

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Abstract

Emotional abuse can result in neurological changes that can affect behavioral regulations of aggression. Multiple traumatic brain injuries (TBI) can result in a high probability of developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), and in significant impairment in the ability to regulate aggressive behavior. Neuroimaging can detect abnormalities consistent with changes reported in emotional abuse and in multiple TBIs with greater risk of developing CTE. Such evidence can be presented for use during the mitigation phase in death penalty cases. We report a case of a 60-year-old convicted felon, Raul Roque, who committed two homicides ten years apart. In the second homicide trial, scientific evidence of the defendant’s brain abnormalities (consistent with severe emotional abuse, neglect induced neurological changes, post-traumatic stress disorder, and TBIs with a likely prognosis of high risk of CTE) was displayed using positron emission tomography, diffusion tensor imaging, and quantitative volumetrics. In the defendant’s psychological assessments, a history of childhood trauma, multiple frequent head injuries, and psychological disturbances were documented. Utilization of clinically practiced neuroimaging analyses is a useful component during the mitigation phase of capital punishment court cases and can lead to understanding neuroanatomical correlation with brain function and behavior of incarcerated individuals who commit capital murder.

Keywords

forensic pathology, neurolaw, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, FDG-PET, diffusion tensor imaging

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