Bound and gagged: murder or accident?
European edition, Saturday, April 28, 2007
WIESBADEN, Germany — Almost nothing about the death of Chevonne Talbot is typical.
On Oct. 12, 2004, Chevonne Talbot, the 30-year-old wife of Spc. Tyrone Talbot, was found tied up, face down on the bathroom floor in her housing unit at Hainerberg Housing Area. Her mouth was stuffed with paper. She was dead.
There was no sign of a struggle. Toxicology tests indicate she wasn’t drugged. She appeared to have agreed to be bound up as she was. She was fully clothed.
Now, more than two years later, Tyrone Talbot is facing life in prison if convicted on charges of premeditated murder and making a false official statement. His court-martial began this week in Wiesbaden.
Maj. Dan Froehlich, Spc. Talbot’s lead defender, said there was a rush to judgment of his client from the outset. Police presumed the guilt of an innocent man and ignored clues that would lead to the real killer, he said.
The cause of death is not in dispute, according to a forensic pathologist who testified as an expert witness for the defense Friday. Chevonne Talbot died of ligature strangulation, said Dr. Robert Bux, the coroner and chief medical examiner for El Paso County, Colo.
A single silk scarf, believed to have caused the strangulation, was found wrapped around the victim’s neck and binding her hands behind her back so that if she moved her arms downward she’d strangle herself, he testified.
Ligature strangulation is often used to induce a hypoxic state, which is like being high, Bux said. Some people use it to enhance sexual experiences, and there was evidence here of a sexual asphyxial death, he testified.
There was also no evidence that she had struggled as she was tied up, “so up to a certain point she had to be a willing participant,” Bux said. He said it was unlikely she could have been tied in such a manner without someone else’s help, but it’s unclear to him exactly how the scarf had bound the victim because paramedics called to the scene cut it before crime scene investigators could arrive.
Bux testified that he didn’t know what role the tissue paper found in the victim’s mouth might have played, but if it was placed there before she died, she hadn’t objected to it because there was no evidence she resisted it.
When asked if her death might have been a suicide, Bux said it was possible, but the chances were remote. He has seen some three- to four-dozen cases of erotic asphyxiation in his 22 years as a forensic pathologist, he testified, and he has never seen anyone who has been able to kill themselves while tied up as she was.
He also said he doesn’t think the death was an accident. “I think it’s most likely a homicide,” he testified.
According to testimony earlier in the week, there is evidence Tyrone Talbot had attempted suicide the day of the murder by ingesting various pills. Some additional details, such as whether he called police as soon as he returned from work and found his wife dead, are in dispute.
Charges were preferred against Talbot in November — more than two years after an investigation into the death by U.S. and German investigators began. U.S. government prosecutors didn’t want to go forward with charges until the investigation, which included the translation of volumes of documents, a pathology investigation, computer investigation, DNA testing, and numerous other analyses, was complete, according to a statement issued Friday by the Army.
Talbot is not now, nor has he been, confined.