Stab Wounds

A stab wound is deeper than it is wide. The size of a skin defect rarely gives an indication of the depth of a stab wound. The ends of the stab wound are the angles. The angles of the wound may be blunt or sharp depending on the weapon. A single-edged blade will create one blunt angle and one sharp angle. Knives with two cutting surfaces will cause two sharp angles. Homemade sharpened weapons may produce wounds having either sharp or dull angles.

The width and length of a weapon's blade may be determined by analyzing a stab wound. A 1/2-inch wide blade, for example, will cause a 1/2-inch wide wound on the skin surface if a knife is inserted and removed straight. If either the victim or assailant moves, the external wound may be longer. An external wound may also be slightly shorter because of the skin's elasticity. The depth of the wound track may be longer than the length of the blade because skin and surrounding tissues will collapse and spring back as the pressure is relieved.

Multiple incised and/or stab wounds of the neck, face, and extremities (so-called "defense" wounds) are usually caused by an assailant. Multiple incised wounds of varying depths on the neck or wrists suggest a suicide. Superficially incised wounds adjacent to a major incised wound are referred to as hesitation marks and are characteristic of self-inflicted injuries. A body sustaining tens or hundreds of stab and incised wounds is characteristic of a situation known as "overkill" which usually occurs in a highly emotional setting such as one involving sexual and/or drugs.

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