CINCINNATI — Ray Tensing must be haunted by the face of Sam DuBose.
That seemed clear even before autopsy photos showing the gaping bullet holes in DuBose’s head popped up on the video monitor in front of Tensing during Monday’s testimony.
The chief deputy coroner, Dr. Karen Looman, was on the stand testifying about her autopsy on DuBose. For the first 12 minutes, Tensing looked straight ahead, showing no emotion, just as he had done throughout the first week of testimony. Suddenly, a photo of DuBose’s face, taken while his body was lying in the morgue, appeared on the screen.
The dead man seemed to be smiling with a toothy grin. His left eye was wide open, his right eye was partly so, and both eyes seemed to stare straight into the camera — and, for that moment, straight into Tensing’s eyes.
Tensing turned away — no wonder — and raised his left hand to cover his eyes. When he looked up, the coroner had put up another photo. DuBose was no longer staring straight at Tensing. Instead, DuBose’s head had been turned and he appeared to be looking to the side, exposing the entry wound just above his left ear. Tensing caught a glimpse, then took a sip from his plastic water bottle and looked away again.
Tensing kept his head turned away while Looman showed the exit wound on the right side of DuBose’s head and described how the bullet had traveled through the bone of DuBose’s skull and brain, snapped off his brain stem and emerged on the other side.
It was hard to stomach. Most of Dubose’s family left the courtroom before Looman’s testimony rather than be subjected to the harsh reality in the photos. One juror gasped and put her hand over her eyes.
“I didn’t stay in the room because I knew that I would be very verbal,” said DuBose’s fiancee, DaShonda Reid. “The judge indicated that if we were going to be in there and make some noise, there would be a possibility of a mistrial, so I chose to leave.”