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Free Study Guide-Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson-Book Notes
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CHAPTER 19

Summary

On the second day of the trial, Dr. Sterling Whitman takes the stand for the prosecution. Whitman is a hematologist; he analyzes blood tests. Whitman tested the blood on the fishing gaff taken from Kabuo’s boat. Whitman found type B human blood on the gaff. Based on medical records, Carl’s blood was type B positive. He cannot say for certainty that this was Carl’s blood. However, type B blood is relatively rare. Only 10% of Caucasian males have type B blood. Kabuo’s blood is type O negative.

Nels Gudmundsson cross-examines Dr. Whitman. Whitman testifies that there were no bits of bone, strands of hair, or particles of scalp found on the gaff. Attorney Gudmundsson asks whether it would be expected for there to be bits of bone, hair, or scalp on the gaff if it was used to inflict a head wound. Whitman says that he doesn’t know.

Nels reminds Whitman that the coroner stated that Carl had a laceration on his right hand. Whitman agrees it is possible that if Carl’s hand had been wrapped around the butt of the gaff it would have caused the type B blood to be there. Whitman also agrees that statistically about 200 Caucasian men on the island had type B blood and that 20% of Japanese males have type B blood. Whitman confesses that given the cut on Carl’s hand and the lack of bone, skin, and hair on the gaff it was probable that the blood, if it was Carl’s, came from Carl’s hand not his head.


Three fishermen testify they saw Kabuo and Carl fishing in the same vicinity; Carl was 1000 yards closer to the shipping lanes. Fisherman Leonard George testifies it was uncommon to board another gill-netters boat unless your boat is stalled, you need a part, or you’re hurt. Leonard also testifies that men argue at sea particularly if another man sets his net to steal your fish. However, even then you still never board another man’s boat.

First Sergeant Maples, from Illinois, takes the stand. Maples trained combat troops, and “hand-to-hand combat was his specialty.” Maples then relates his story of being beaten in training by Kabuo. After which, he began to study kendo and even taught it to army rangers. Maples states that for a certainty Kabuo was capable of killing a man far larger than himself with a fishing gaff. Kabuo was “technically proficient at stick fighting and willing to inflict violence on another man. It did not surprise him to hear Kabuo had killed a man with a fishing gaff.

Notes

More evidence for and against Kabuo is presented by Dr. Sterling Whitman and First Sergeant Maples. The evidence suggesting his guilt is the human blood on the fishing gaff and the sergeant’s belief that Kabuo is not only capable but willing to kill another man. However, in Kabuo’s favor, there is no hair, bone, or bits of scalp on the fishing gaff, which would be expected if that was the weapon used to inflict the wound on Carl’s head.

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