Dr. David M. Posey was woefully unqualified as a coroner, yet Deputy District Attorney Patricia Titus—now LA Superior Court Judge Titus—selected and paid Posey $3,300 for “expert” testimony in the 1994 accidental drowning of Delores “Dee Dee” Jackson—Michael Jackson’s sister-in-law. Dr. Posey changed his conclusion in the case from accidental to “homicide-assisted drowning” more than three years after the initial autopsy of Tito Jackson’s ex-wife, which led to the conviction of Donald J. Bohana for murder.
Dr. Posey’s resume cites “on-the-job training” at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. According to Bohana family correspondence with the institute and the institute’s website, it does not teach about forensic pathology or investigations of unnatural death. The Institute only provides training that amounts to, second opinion diagnostic consultations on pathologic specimens, such as biopsies from military veterans and civilian doctors, including dental and veterinary sources. The AF Institute of Pathology does not perform autopsies, let along autopsies related to determining a cause of death in a possible murder investigation, so thus it can’t provide hands-on autopsy training, to a resident or a trainee.
Posey claimed in his resume that he received “formal training at the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office.” When queried about training opportunities, the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office replied, “We don’t have on-the-job forensic training. The only training that we provide is a fellowship for medical doctors who have completed their residency in pathology and are working toward becoming a board-certified medical examiner.” Based on his resume, Posey did not enter or complete a qualified pathology residency program and he was not studying, no had studied to become a board-certified medical examiner, anywhere.
A certificate Posey had from the American Board of Pathology was issued in Louisiana. The actual American Board of Pathology, however, is headquartered in the state of Florida. According to the ABP, it has never been based in Louisiana. It was founded in 1936 in Chicago, IL and is now based in the city of Tampa, FL. The ‘pathology board’ that Posey received his “board certification” from appears to be a diploma mill, which fraudulently qualified him to earn employment at the L.A. County Medical Examiner’s Office, one of the largest ME offices in the world.
During the trial, prosecutor Patricia Titus asked Posey, “How many autopsies had you performed up to August 27, 1994?” Posey replied, “Oh, it was probably somewhere in the neighborhood of around 900.” He made the same assertion to the grand jury convened in this case. Based on Posey’s resume, this number seems absurd and impossible, since Posey never appears to have been a full-time coroner or medical examiner. It is unclear and unsubstantiated, where or when he would have performed any more than the few autopsies he possibly performed when he worked part-time within a span of six months for the coroner’s office in Los Angeles.
According to departmental records, Dr. Posey worked for the LA County Department of the Medical Examiner-Coroner, from July 29, 1994 to January 31, 1995. In total during that time, he worked only 29 days. He was hired to work only on Saturday and Sunday nights. He resigned on January 31, 1995. Therefore, when Judge Morris Jones appeared to believe that Posey was a current member of the L.A. Coroner’s Office staff in 1997-1998, during the pre-trial phase and trial of Donald Bohana, the judge was being misled
Yet, in September 1996, as a then private citizen, post-resignation from his part-time job at L.A. County, Posey changed the autopsy finding about “Dee Dee” Jackson’s death to “homicide-assisted drowning.” Why was a private citizen Posey, allowed to alter the conclusion of an L.A. County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office autopsy, without the legal qualification and basis to do so?
Posey was asked at the trial, “You told the Grand Jury that you had agreed with Dr. Lakshmanan Sathyavagiswaran [a veteran LA medical examiner and the former chief ME, who had testified at numerous L.A. County trials], that the injuries [to Delores Jackson] were consistent with a rescue—and it was only after you visited the scene and consulted with a water rescue expert [beach lifeguard] that you then concluded that it was a homicide. Is that correct?”
Posey replied, “That’s correct.”
This reliance on other experts is far from usual for a pathologist. Dr. Michael Baden, one of the world’s foremost experts, who was the Chief Forensic Pathologist for the New York State Police, a board-certified pathologist with residency training, and performed more than 20,000 autopsies in his career, testified, “I have never in 43 years, and I don’t know of any other forensic pathologist, who has ever consulted with an aquatic expert to determine whether injuries on a body are due to assault or due to natural conditions…The forensic pathologist is an expert on injuries to the body….I don’t consult with firearms experts to evaluate bullet wounds to the body.…Just the same with aquatic consultants.” Dr. Posey does not appear to know a pathologist’s job. Stephen Kay, who worked for the LA District Attorney’s Office and helped send the Manson family to prison, was asked about Posey’s credentials in another case. Kay called Posey “a fraud.”
During an evidentiary hearing, Dr. Christopher Rogers, a board-certified forensic pathologist with 25 years of experience at the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s office, disagreed with Posey’s findings. Rogers said, “From the condition of Ms. Jackson’s body, I cannot tell if it was an accident, suicide or homicide.”
Lack of Opposing Expert Opinion in Trial. Famed Baden Barred From Testifying
Unfortunately, for whatever reason, Bohana’s attorney, Harland Braun, did not put any experts, including Dr. Baden or Dr. Lakshmanan, on the stand to refute Posey’s highly questionable testimony. Dr. Lakshmanan was available and willing to testify that “Dee Dee” Jackson drowned by accident. In fact, four times in their closing argument, the prosecution mentioned the fact that Braun had called no experts to support Bohana’s version of the events of the night of “Dee Dee” Jackson’s death. Even the judge, Norman Tarle, said on the record, “These expert(s) are impressive and could have offered something useful at trial.” Dr. Baden was so incensed at not being called to testify at the trial, he said he would remain in Los Angeles to hear for himself why. Harland Braun never returned his calls.
Braun also could have called Dr. Glen Egstrom, an aquatic expert, whom Bohana had retained. Dr. Egstrom was ready to refute the prosecution’s beach lifeguard expert’s testimony, which supported the conclusion that “Dee Dee” was murdered. Egstrom said that Bohana’s version of how he got “Dee Dee’s” body out of the pool was consistent with the state of the body. Egstrom later said, “Mr. Bohana was a [former] wrestler and a good swimmer, and his wrestling training would have aided him in a recovery from the pool in the manner he described.”
Character Issues of Credibility. Dr. Posey is a Serial Wife Beater
Pamela Posey, David Posey’s ex-wife, submitted an Application and Declaration in support of her request for an Order Prohibiting Domestic Violence against her husband, Dr. David M. Posey. She chronicled a history of beatings, rapes and abuse over the course of their 10-year marriage (1992-2002), often in front of their three small children. Pamela Posey alleged that David Posey also had a string of affairs during their marriage. On October 12, 2001, the Superior Court issued a restraining order to Pamela Posey against Dr. David Posey.
An Miscarriage of Justice, an Unfair Trial Riddled With Reasonable Doubt
With an unqualified expert who was a wife beater supporting the prosecution and the jury left in the dark about qualified experts supporting the defense, Donald J. Bohana had little chance of being acquitted of the charges against him for the death of “Dee Dee” Jackson. The trial was clearly unfair and was conducted in an irregular manner with a pseudo coroner who was not working for the LA Coroner’s office when he changed the conclusion about the cause of death. Having served more than two decades in prison, having survived a stroke and COVID-19, Donald J. Bohana deserves to be released for the accidental death of “Dee Dee” Jackson, instead of still being held behind bars based on a trumpedup conviction from a proven fraud.
Scot Macdonald is the author of Deadly Dance: The Chippendales Murders, Saucy Jack: Alias Jack the Ripper, and the five novels. He was education at the University of British Columbia, University of Nevada, Reno, and the University of Southern California.