Jernigan (January 31, 1954
– August 5, 1993) was a Texas murderer who was
executed by lethal injection at 12:31 a.m.
In 1981, Jernigan was sentenced
to death for stabbing and shooting 75-year-old
Edward Hale, who discovered him stealing a microwave
oven. Jernigan spent 12 years in prison before his
final plea for clemency was denied. At the prompting
of a prison chaplain, he agreed to donate his body
for scientific research or medical use. His cadaver
was sectioned and photographed for the Visible Human
Project. He is the subject of an HBO documentary
french fries, tossed salad with 1,000 island dressing and iced tea (refused
Jernigan was executed on Aug. 5, 1993 for the 1981 murder of 75
year-old Edward Hale.
Jernigan and an accomplice were in the process of
burglarizing Hale’s house when he returned home. Apparently, the
two left immediately, but Jernigan returned and murdered Hale in
fear that Hale would be able to identify him as the thief. Jernigan
repeatedly hit Hale in the face with an ashtray and attempted to
stab him with a kitchen knife. When this failed, he grabbed a
shotgun and shot Hale in the neck and chest. After the shooting,
apparently Jernigan continued to burglarize the home, according to a
document from the U. S. Court of Appeals.
A sheriff arrested Jernigan
several days later after his wife, Vicki Jernigan, provided the
sheriff’s department with the information they needed to arrest him.
After his arrest, Jernigan admitted to murdering Hale. Jernigan’s
accomplice, Roy Lamb, pleaded guilty as an accomplice and received a
30-year prison sentence. Lamb was paroled sometime in 1991.
After several attempts at appeals,
Jernigan was executed by lethal injection, making him the 63rd
inmate executed in Texas since the United States reinstated
the death penalty. Afterward, his body was donated to science where
he has become known as “The Visible Human.” His corpse has been
frozen, sliced into thousands of cross-sections, photographed,
digitized and put on the Internet for the world to see. A man who
took the life of another is now a teaching tool for the entire
world, available on the Internet as the first 3-D cadaver.
The murderer's gift:
The life and eternal cyberlife
of Paul Jernigan
By David Rothman
excerpt below is from my book NetWorld: What People Are Really
Doing on the Internet, and What It Means to You, copyrighted in
1996 by me and published by Prima Publishing, a division of Random
Jernigan was a tattooed ex-mechanic just under six feet tall and
weighing 200 pounds. He had been a drug addict and a chronic drunk,
but nearly all his organs still looked in textbook shape by the
standards of gross anatomy--a stroke of luck that would later help
him win a macabre competition. Jernigan had fatally stabbed and shot
a seventy-five-year-old watchman after stealing a radio and a
microwave oven. More than a decade had passed. So had his hopes for
a successful appeal to the courts.
Lying on a gurney in a Texas
deathhouse--his arms outstretched, as if in a crucifixion--Paul
Jernigan just gawked upward as his brother watched. No last words
came before the poison flowed into Jernigan's veins.
Jernigan gave himself to
science. A not-so-loquacious sister told me this was to spare the
family the cost of burial. "It was like, matter of fact," his last
attorney said of the donation. "It was a gift. He wasn't going to
laud himself, pat himself on the back. We didn't send an embossed
announcement that 'Paul Jernigan has donated his body to science and
this is his ticket to redemption.'" A former cellmate offered his
own twist Supposedly, Jernigan wanted his family to be able to sell
his life story for a true-crime book. The donation just might make
the planet care more about him in death than in life.
Within a year of the
execution, in fact, I was reading clips about Paul Jernigan from the
London Times, Jerusalem Post, New York Times,
Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and the Boston
Globe. My favorite lead came out in a British paper called
The Independent: "A killer was yesterday let loose on the
Internet computer network." I wondered how he'd respond to flaming.
The new Jernigan lived on as a digital atlas of the human body, a
few steaklike cross sections of which I could dial up on the World
The Visible Human Project
had come out of the National Library of Medicine in a Maryland
suburb near Washington, D.C. It was one of the most spectacular
examples of the Net's potential for spreading knowledge.
Researchers had cut Jernigan
into four blocks, frozen him in a blue gel, ground him down
millimeter by millimeter, digitally photographed the 1,878 cross
sections that emerged, scanned these slices into a computer, put
them on magnetic tape, and then on the Internet Now the cadaver
would be grist for medical educators and cancer researchers and
perhaps even the designers of a Fantastic Voyage-style game.
Players might explore the human body from the inside, just as Isaac
Asimov's characters did in his novel. The government itself was
spending $1.4 million on the project; expected commercial payoffs
could reach the tens of millions and maybe more. Research and
education, however, would be paramount here.
The Visible Human Project
was but one of thousands of uses that academics and researchers had
found for the Internet The Net was why many scientific luminaries
were quick to slap the "fraud" label on efforts to create energy
through cold fusion. Skeptics throughout the world could compare
notes. If Paris couldn't replicate an experiment, then Boston would
know within hours. Working in the other direction, fusion stalwarts
had used the Internet to swap data and maintain the faith.
Cyberspace was to knowledge what beehives are to honey.
Already the Net was teeming
with thousands of mailing lists devoted to the most arcane
disciplines, not just to the mainstream ones. Many scientists and
other researchers envisioned the Net as a substitute for paper-style
academic journals, subscriptions to some of which can cost as much
as a Ford Escort. Stevan Harnad caught the imaginations of many
academics with "A Subversive Proposal" for scholars to publish their
finished works formally on the Net without offering them to academic
publishers. He put out a vigilantly edited, psychology-related
magazine with a circulation of tens of thousand on the Internet; he
saw no reason for the Net just to be a repository/for pre-publication
papers. In his opinion, academics could use such opportunities to
enjoy greater bargaining power with existing publishers. Yet another
glory of the Internet was that it served as a bridge between experts
and nonexperts, as well as one between authorities in many academic
disciplines. A dean of a law school, for example, could sign up for
mailing lists on electronic serials to learn more about the
technology that was fueling the drive for copyright reform.
The doctor, a Scottish-accented
man his his fifties or sixties, had collected a wall full of
diplomas and plaques. Perhaps that's why he felt entitled to give
only the sketchiest of explanations when he told a Midwestern friend
of mine that she might need heart surgery to avoid a possible stroke.
Karen (I've changed her name, along with a few identifying details)
would be in the hospital just a day or so. But during this time a
surgeon would insert a catheter up her groin and go on to kill off
selected heart cells. With luck, the operation would end her atrial
fibrillation. It had made her heart throb as quickly as 200 beats a
minute on occasion and had sent her to the emergency room.
Karen pressed for details
about the recommended operation. "Ma'am," Dr. S. said in a
peremptory burr, "this is too technical."
It was Valentine's Day and
Karen and her husband would rather have been thinking about hearts
in that way alone. But she wanted to know all. "Ma'am, I'll draw you
a picture," Dr. S. said a bit grudgingly. The doctor sketched a
crude heart that might as well have been on a greeting card. Hastily
drawn lines showed how electric impulses were traveling through
Karen's heart with an extra path. The operation would cut off the
surplus wiring, so to speak.
Well, this was a start. But
Karen still felt ignorant, and it was her body into which the
catheter would go. And so it is with many patients, not all, but
many. Even good doctors don't always tell enough.
The Visible Human Project,
however, would make it easier for Karen to learn more. Dr. S. could
have shown Karen a computer image of an actual human heart and have
pointed to the exact areas that the surgeon would kill off. Karen
would have picked up a better appreciation of the complexities of
the proposed operation. At the same time, Dr. S. could also have
juggled around computer images to show the increased risk of
clotting that would result if she failed to have the operation.
Karen would have emerged better informed and more confident--or less,
whatever the facts justified. Someday she might even be able to dial
up on the Internet an animated, perfectly detailed series of
pictures of the operation.
That was what the Visible
Human Project would mean. What's more, patient education was just
one of many uses; the right technology could revolutionize the
training of doctors and advance medical research.
As far back as the 1980s,
such ideas intrigued Michael Ackerman, a Ph.D. in biomedical
engineering who worked for the National Library of Medicine, part of
the National Institutes of Health. He heard of a project at the
University of Washington that was digitizing the human brain,
although not the entire body. Researchers at other schools hoped to
do the same with other organs. But they were less keen on collecting
images and other data than on using the them, so why duplicate each
other? Like the Internet itself; then, just one digitized corpse
could help many researchers at once.
In North Carolina a
marketing executive with a drug company was dreaming of a human
atlas on a computer screen. Why should medical students have to make
do with fold-out drawings in anatomy guides? Michael Du Toit, Vice
President of marketing for Glaxo Inc., passed the idea on to a small
company called Butler Communications, which checked out the
technology. Glaxo had three goals. First, it wanted to create the
basic images. Second, it wanted viewers to be able to wander through
the body; ideally they could move the body for the best view, spin
it, travel through it. And third, it wanted researchers to be able
to give the lungs cancer; clog the arteries to the heart, and
demonstrate the effects of drugs. But computers weren't ready. "The
hype versus the deliverable," Robert Butler told me, "was miles and
miles apart." To meet Glaxo's specs--to show the body by way of
artistic recreations and virtual reality--might cost as much as $100
Imagine the excitement that
Du Toil and Butler must have felt on learning that academic and
government researchers were finally coming up with the means for
this to happen at a fraction of the expense. The Feds put out a
request for proposals for the dissection job, and the crew at the
University of Colorado made the final cut. Still unanswered was the
question of whose corpse would end up on the Internet The contest
judges allowed a bit more leeway than did the people choosing Miss
America and Mr. Universe.
The ideal candidate for
Visibility could be anywhere from maybe thirty to sixty years of age
and be a bit thin or pudgy, albeit not exceedingly so. Height
mustn't go too far beyond the norms for male and female. Above all,
the innards of the body had to be photogenic from an anatomical
perspective. That weeded out anyone worn down by cancer or similar
disease, not to mention any victims of automobile accidents or
A little unfairly, this
contest had geographical limits. Texas, Maryland, and Colorado were
the states with subcontracts to provide the body. I could understand
Maryland and Colorado, but Texas? I wondered if the reason would be
the fondness of the people down there for capital punishment. No
longer did bodies have to roast in electric chairs. Texas helpfully
killed its murderers with lethal injections. So, in this competition,
Paul Jernigan was a strong contender from the beginning.
Murder is an act of the will
no matter how poor or Hitlerian our parents are, or what genes shape
us and our brains. But if Fate sent anyone to the deathhouse gurney
and to Visible Manhood, it was Paul Jernigan. He lived out an
updated Dreiser novel.
His full legal name was
Joseph Paul Jernigan, and he was born in Geneva, Illinois, on
January 31, 1954, the youngest of Earl Jernigan's six children. The
boy suffered from asthma and almost died of it He and his brothers
and sisters typically owned just one pair of jeans each. Their
mother eked it out in a chicken-processing plant, as a clerk at
Montgomery Wards, and at other low-paying jobs, and they lived in
public housing. She married a truck driver who, like Earl, was a
strict disciplinarian toward the children. Later she suffered a
stroke. Afflicted with a learning disorder, Paul flunked a grade at
school and dropped out two years before graduating. He was a drunk
and eventually was doing a pharmacy's worth of drugs, from Quaaludes
to horse tranquilizers.
The Army trained Paul
Jernigan as a mechanic, sent him to Germany, then tossed him out as
unsalvageable. Perhaps recognizing the cruel matrix that shaped
Jernigan, it gave him a general discharge (a "no comment" in effect)
rather than a dishonorable one. A shrink later found Jernigan to be
a passive-aggressive man who was sometimes TNT-volatile. In the
years after the military Jernigan kept a cooler of ice and beer in
his automobile; a typical paycheck went for pot, cheeseburgers, and
enough octane for himself and the car.
friends trusted Paul Jernigan with their children. Jernigan was the
perfect baby-sitter who enjoyed romping around with his charges. He
married for a stretch and loved his stepchildren.
But he failed at marriage
just as he had failed in school and in the Army.
Jernigan bungled at
burglary, too. He was already a two-time loser in 1981 when he and a
pal named Roy Lamb were driving down the road in Corsicana, Texas, a
small, howdy-neighbor kind of town south of Dallas on Interstate 45.
Emboldened by a night of booze and pot, the two decided to rob
Edward Hale's house. They began stuffing their loot into a pillow
case when Hale surprised them. Lamb ran out. Jernigan beat Hale over
the head with an ashtray, hoping to kill off the witness. Hale
stubbornly survived. Then Jernigan stubbed him with a rusty,
dull-bladed meat knife, which just bent on Hale's chest. And so he
took a shotgun and fired until the watchman was dead. Edward Hale
did not die painlessly. After the murder, Jernigan went to Houston
to try to straighten out his life. He was in a halfway house when
Some would say Jernigan
needn't have wound up on the gurney; the law prevented the courts
from accepting an accomplice's testimony. Mark Ticer, his last
attorney, believes that Jernigan may have felt so contrite that he
wanted to die. Ticer grew truly fond of his client In character,
Jernigan would constantly inquire about the lawyer's two-year-old
and remember birthdays.
Jernigan gave Ticer's wife,
Cecily, some earrings made from gold bought with his military
pension, and he crafted a wishing-well bucket for Ticer. Ticer was
as trusting of the murderer as Jernigan's friends had been; he
would have trusted him with his own young daughter. Even on death
row Jernigan would write to the stepchildren from his failed
Smoking a hand-rolled
cigarette and sipping a Pepsi, he would discuss legal strategy with
Ticer until finally there wasn't quite so much to be strategic about.
"Paul," Ticer more or less
said, "things are not going well. I guess I have to talk about your
burial arrangements if they're going to execute you. I know your
family doesn't have a lot of money." And it was there in the Ellis
prison in Huntsville that Ticer learned of The Gift. Neither knew
Jernigan would eventually become the Visible Man.
Mark Ticer tried for a stay
of execution up to the last minute. Aware of Ticer's devotion to
him, Jernigan asked his lawyer not to witness his last minutes.
Death was almost instant Paul Jernigan died much more smoothly than
he had lived.
The state anatomical board,
a subcontractor of the University of Colorado, took it from there.
Jernigan got one and a half gallons of 1 percent formalin. That was
a light touch. Often cadavers are embalmed with ten gallons of a
stronger preservative, and they sit and pickle for a year, so that
when medical students cut them up, all the tissues are gray. But the
idea here, in case Jernigan won the Visible Man honors, was to keep
his tissue looking nice and bright like prime meat; the students
would be able to enjoy a better, more realistic view.
Writing this chapter, I
pondered the use of the state anatomical board as a cadaver procurer.
Thank God the board was separate from the court system. Given the
rage for businesslike government, I could just imagine some of the
wilder politicians setting up an execution quota to work toward a
balanced state budget. But the real reason for the use of Jernigan's
corpse was more prosaic. Texas had one of the best cadaver-donation
programs in the country, and of some 2,000 bodies that year, his
just happened to show up at the right time and in the right
A Learjet flew Jernigan from
Texas to Colorado. Awaiting him were the masterminds of the
dissection effort at the University of Colorado Health Sciences
Center in Denver. Victor Spitzer specialized in radiology and
cellular and structural biology; David Whitlock was a professor of
cellular and structural biology. The people working most on Jernigan
would be the research assistants in the dissection room, which, day
to day, was overseen by Tim Butzer, thirty, and his wife, Martha
Pelster, a bright, curly-haired woman of twenty-five who would later
apply for medical school. Helen Pelster, another assistant, was the
sister of Martha Pelster. The whole scenario--the family
connection--begged for embellishment from Stephen King or Robin
I asked Martha Pelster if
her work haunted her at night. "I kind of keep it on a pretty even
level," she said. "I don't have too much trouble with it." She said
Butzer felt the same.
Had Jernigan inspired much
after-hours talk with her husband?
"If there was a problem that
needed to be worked out."
But did Pelster and Butzer
reflect on the Visible Man's past in relation to what was happening
"Not too much. Getting
emotionally involved with something like that--you don't want to
discuss it. It isn't relevant to what we're doing."
Inquiring about the
university's most famous cadaver, I learned that Jernigan had come
with at least two tattoos on his chest area; they looked vaguely
like dragons. His build and muscles were impressive. The lab had to
modify some of the machinery to handle Jernigan. He showed up with
just one testicle, which, I learned elsewhere, was the aftermath of
painful surgery from his military days. I also heard that another
operation had left him without an appendix. Students and researchers
seeking to unravel the mysteries of appendixdom would just have to
turn elsewhere. As a taxpayer, however, I didn't feel cheated. This
was the States, not Bangladesh; did that many Americans die without
any remnants of surgery? Jernigan's cadaver stood head and shoulders
above a rival, a woman who was a chronic alcoholic with visible
damage to her liver. In the hierarchy of the dissection room, livers
must have counted more than appendixes.
Before the millimeter-by-millimeter
grinding, the scientists treated Jernigan to magnetic resonance
imaging (MRI, mixing radio waves and magnetic fields) and computer-aided
tomography (CAT or CT, which is like topography except that it's on
the innards of the human body). MRI picks up soft tissue. CAT scans
are good for hard tissue, and for the differences between it and
soft tissue. The researchers CT'ed Jernigan both before and after he
was frozen, and these scans had to correspond with the alignment of
the digitized photographs. Imagine the precision required here.
Preparing to slice the icy
cadaver into four blocks for convenient grinding, the lab crew
sharpened up on a less exalted cadaver. Vertebrae were a problem. "This
saw would curve," Pelster said, "so you wouldn't have a perfect
perpendicular flat cut. It would have a curve to it. So we took the
cadaver back to the CT scanner and found the level where we could
make a cut." In the end there were three cuts and four sections of
Jernigan--head and torso, abdomen and pelvis just down to the thighs,
the rest of the thighs and the knees, and just below the knees to
the feet. The frozen pieces went into an aluminum mold, one at a
time. And then the researchers poured a blue gel around them (the
same blue you'll see on the edges of the cross sections if you dial
them up on the World Wide Web). The result was four chunks of ice,
each approximately 20 by 20 by 15 inches.
The grinding area was the
next stop. Plexiglass enclosed it. That was a must. Pieces of
cadaver would fly everywhere as science turned Paul Jernigan into
dust with a spinning, carbide-tipped blade. "You'd think we'd have
trouble sectioning bone," Pelster said, "but that's not been the
case. Bone always cuts very clean. But sometimes we have a lot of
trouble with the tendons. The tendons are such that they don't want
to shear off cleanly, and so a lot of time we did hand scalpel work
on each slice. So the slices might take ten minutes each instead of
four minutes each." Actually the time varied. "Ninety slices were
the most we cut on any one day, and we averaged sixty. Sometimes it
was ten a day. It was about four months of sectioning."
"Were you worried about
damaging the goods?" I asked.
"Definitely. We just did the
best we could."
"Any near misses?"
"There were definitely a few.
We never were to the point where we torpedoed the whole project. It
would be more a possibility of losing a slice. We never came close
to botching the whole thing. You look back and you see a little dot
of ice here or there, things like that. You do the best you can. But
I think it turned out well."
All along, of course,
cameras and lights were clicking and flashing away. The slices went
into a black-walled, reflection-proof chamber for photographing by
one digital camera and two with film. A table held the cameras. It
turned to give each a view of the cross sections from the same angle.
The results went into a Macintosh Quadra 840AV with 128 megabytes of
random access memory and 2 gigabytes of hard disk space. It was, in
other words, many times more powerful and could store at least
several times more than the average personal computer back then. As
with the grinding, problems sometimes arose. "You think computers
are so precise," Martha Pelster said, "but they're not. Things are
always going wrong." Typically working with her and Tim were such
people as the man who kept the grinding machine running, a camera
expert, and a computer expert (Helen Pelster, Martha's sister), who
would transfer the digitized Jernigan to tape and CDROM. Come the
end of a hard day of photography, the lab crew collected everything
and put it back in the freezer. "And then when we were finished
doing this," Pelster said, "we had many bags of things that needed
to go be cremated." The dust went to a contractor for incineration.
Digitized photos and CAT and
MRI images from Jernigan went to National Library of Medicine in
Maryland and to the Scientific Computing Division at the National
Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. The latter
worked with a Cray Y-MP/8 supercomputer and Silicon Graphics
workstations to study the results. A headline on the World Wide Web
summed up the magnitude of the computational task: "The Visible
Human Project: Can It Bring a Supercomputer to Its Knees?" A machine
with the power of the Cray could take the 1,878 cross sections,
stack them like slices of an upright bread loaf, and create
electronic bones or hearts or brains that looked as if they had
never been taken apart in the first place.
By fall 1994, Michael
Ackerman at the National Library of Medicine was ready to tell the
world about the electronic Jernigan and to have his images posted on
the Net by way of the weather forecaster's facilities. "We hold this
out as an example of the future of health care,” Ackerman said. He
predicted that the study of medicine would become increasingly
visual. No one talked then of a murderer, and so the first stories
on the wire services blandly mentioned an anonymous thirty-nine-year-old
donor from Texas who had died of a drug overdose.
Learning that a digitized
corpse would go on the Internet, not everyone greeted the news with
unalloyed praise. Some reviled this as a waste of Net resources. Why
not use CD-ROMs to distribute the information? To an extent I could
see their arguments. The Library was releasing sixteen gigabytes of
images at the start, and even someone with a deluxe Net connection
could spend a week or so downloading it. Critics believed that this
squandered bandwidth, that it was a bit like cruising down a narrow
country road with an overgrown tour bus and fifty cars honking at it
from behind. The strain on the Internet was far from that bad. But
even by Net standards this was indeed a behemoth, and much more
importantly, the bandwidth defenders worried about the precedent
being set here. Sixteen gigabytes of images was equivalent to 8
billion pages of double-spaced typing. Individual e-mail messages
commonly took up only a page or two.
Even so, the Visible Man had
his friends out there in cyberspace. Anxious to beat rivals to the
data, one company kept its modems pumping away for a week until it
had received all of Jernigan. It didn't want to wait weeks or months
for tapes. Thanks to the Net, many people throughout the world could
receive Jernigan at the same time. In the first few months of the
release, more than 900 companies, schools, and people wrote Ackerman
about licenses giving them permission to use the data in experiments
and products. Some 100 actually followed through--everyone from
pharmaceutical firms to a young artist who, according to Ackerman,
assured him that she would make tasteful use of the images.
Luckily from a bandwidth
perspective, you didn't have to download all of Jernigan. Each slice
was a mere seven megabytes in a spatial resolution of 2,048 by 1,216
pixels (several times sharper than that of a typical personal
computer). A maker of software for ophthalmologists could pull down
only the images dealing with the eye and related brain areas. Those
aiming for the podiatry market could focus on the feet and ankles.
What's more, even without a -license, ordinary Net users could dial
up Jernigan Lite, so to speak, from the World Wide Web.
Coming over the Net
eventually would be more than just the raw, unprocessed images.
Refined versions--for example, animated Jernigans, rotating in 3-D,
or even virtual reality versions--could go anywhere in the world.
And when they did, researchers and students would be wanting their
own pet views. CD-ROMs just didn't store enough data to anticipate
all the possibilities. Typically they could hold maybe 650 megabytes
of data. Even extended, the storage would offer a fraction of what
could be available via high-speed connections to sites from Paris to
Jernigan, you might say, was
more than just the material for a medical experiment. He was also a
focus of a research project to develop special formats for
libraries of visual information on the Net Eventually people would
be able to download not just images but also the "objects" that made
up the images.
"These objects will have
knowledge in them," Michael Ackerman said, "so they know how they
relate to each other and the rest of the scheme. Say you ask for the
heart. What you get of course is the not a picture of the heart but
the objects that made up the heart that your software has now
rendered as the heart. If you point to something on the heart, it
can open up because it's made up of these objects. And if you point
to something on the margin of the heart and say "What is attached
here?" that object on the margin knows what its nearest neighbor is
even though it's not in the picture. And it knows to go back to the
database and bring up what's attached to it."
Such an approach might even
take advantage of Webstyle technology to link together libraries at
a number of locations. So you might smoothly travel from, say, a
processed image of a blood vessel done up at School X to an animated
image of a heart as tweaked by Company Y.
Those uses would increase
the load on the Internet, of course. But ultimately the principle of
the expanding pipeline might work to the benefit of all. That is,
the heavier the traffic on the Net, the heftier the connections
would be built. So in the end, everything would be cheaper--from
image transmissions to sending one-page notes by electronic mail.
Several other cost-related
questions arose beyond those of the expense of the network
connections. I wondered how much patients would be charged to see a
picture of the innards of Jernigan or a Visible Woman. Robert Butler
doubted that his client, Glaxo, was ready to say. However, he left
me with the impression that this probably would not be pay per
view. Glaxo had its own reasons for going ahead--for example,
showing doctors the effects of its pharmaceuticals on the body. So,
no, he said, this was not a plot to gouge the public with peep
A related issue, arising
from the involvement of drug companies, was the question of
proprietary information. While the images were on the Internet for
all to see, this project was not entirely in the spirit of the Net's
openness. Butler, for example, might have feared that I was working
for a rival corporation, and he waited several weeks to return my
calls. I could understand his reasons. Still, I was startled to
learn that Ackerman at the National Institutes of Health would not
even release to me a list of the companies that had licensed the use
of the images. Nor had NIH organized a newsgroup or a mailing list.
Surely all the hundreds of licensees would have common problems,
common opportunities, that they could discuss without imperiling
each other's projects.
Yet another question went
back to one of the main reasons given for the project. Could medical
students really learn by hooking into the Net and dialing up the
images from the Visible Man? David Dean should have been a complete
booster of this endeavor. He was, after all, a Ph.D. who worked in
medical imaging and taught anatomy at Case Western Reserve
University. And yet he told me, "I feel you can't replicate the
experience in the anatomy lab. Students will have no time for this
stuff. They're totally overwhelmed. They can see the same structures
again and again in different bodies."
At the University of North
Carolina in Chapel Hill, Gerry Oxford, professor of physiology, said
that seeing organs in three dimensions wasn't the same feeling them.
"Physicians in training need a visceral appreciation of the fact
that they will have responsibility for the human body." Even a
believer in the project, Marc Nelson, assistant dean of medical
education at the Stanford University School of Medicine in Palo
Alto, worried that electronic anatomy could lessen contacts between
students and teachers.
Real bodies, however, cost
universities $600 each--assuming they could get them in the first
place. And students would not have eyeballs, hearts, hands, and
livers to themselves.
Of all the boosters of the
project, Martha Pelster may have been the most persuasive. She
worked as a lab assistant, had cut up dozens of bodies, and now was
headed to medical school. "When you look at this cadaver," Pelster
said of the digitized Jernigan, "everything is still in its
orientation. When you go in and dissect, you take a lot of stuff
out. If you cut something wrong or cut through something and toss
the object into the reject bin, you've lost it. But with this
visible male, you can go back in again. You can see what happened
before your lab partner went in there and messed up your cadaver.
This cross-sectional anatomy is going to be the be-all and end-all.
A book can't have this many cross sections, this good."
Just as important, no one in
the project, from Ackerman to Pelster, was touting electronic
cadavers as a complete substitute for the real ones that the medical
students studied. The digitized versions would simply augment the
real cadavers, the ones that you couldn't reboot if you cut them the
wrong way. In the new era, medical schools could even require
students to put the human body together, not just take it apart.
Cadavers in cyberspace would
offer yet another advantage: even schoolchildren could study them.
People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and some rock-n-roll
musicians such as Pearl Jam were asking schools to "cut out
dissection" and use computer imaging or model frogs. Thanks to the
Visible Human Project, however, students someday would do better
than just viewing pixels flashing across the screen. They would be
able to tour the body of an actual human. Potential medical students,
moreover, could get a head start Long before they reached the
slicing rooms, they would be familiar with electronic cadavers and
be able to make better use of the real ones. What's more, the
digitized Jernigan could revolutionize training in laparoscopic
surgery, where doctors inserted tubes in patients and operated with
tiny instruments and TV-like monitors and cameras. The view on the
video screen of a training computer could be true to life.
All this was not even to
mention other applications--for example, computer-simulated crash
tests to improve auto safety, efforts to study the range of wrist
motion and reduce carpal tunnel syndrome in typists, or
investigations of ways to protect athletes against injuries.
I asked Mark Ticer if
Jernigan's family had ever thought of suing for any of the wealth
that the project might create from medical products and the rest.
The answer pleased me in
this litigious era. Ticer said that if anything the family would be
offended that anyone raised the issue. That was the way Jernigan and
his kin were. "There wasn't a condition attached to his gift," Ticer
Sharon Kuster, Jernigan's
sister, said her brother would "probably be happy about it. I am."
"Now he can be remembered
for all the good he did rather than all the evil," Ticer said. "I
think he'd be quietly delighted." I picked up on the "quietly."
Jernigan's invisibility, prior to his crimes, was not just because
of his station or lack of station in life. That was his way. Many
other inmates on death row gravitated toward microphones. Jernigan
spumed them. The true-crime book, if one ever resulted, would never
have come out while he was walking and breathing.
Shortly after I talked to
Mark Ticer and Sharon Kuster, my friend Karen got the results of an
intensive examination by a second doctor. It seemed that Karen would
not be undergoing the heart surgery. But even now she couldn't tell
for sure. What's more, if Karen received drugs instead, the medical
benefits of the Visible Man might still help her someday; a major
pharmaceutical company, after all, was hoping to use the digitized
cadaver as a tool to explore and demonstrate the effects of its
My thoughts shifted back to
Jernigan the human. Lying on the death gurney, awaiting the poison,
would he have wanted to make The Gift if someone had rushed in and
asked at the last minute, "Do you realize you'll be all over the
Internet? That you"ll suffer the ultimate invasion of privacy? That
strangers from here to Oslo will see your guts? I'd like to think
that Jernigan would have nodded and the Learjet would still have
flown the body up to Denver. For the sake of Karen, of other sick
people, of those who just might live longer and better if their
surgeons were slightly more skilled, or if they themselves could
make the right decisions about their medical care-- for the sake of
them all, I was not-so-quietly delighted that the invisible man was
 Ronnie Crocker, "Executed
killer lives as computer image," Houston Chronicle, December
18, 1994, Page A1.
 To be technical, these
weren't true physical slices, just images taken of the remaining
surface as researchers ground down Jernigan.
 The University of
Colorado got a great package deal. Whiule I couldn't rate Helen
Pelster according to her medical knowledge, she appeared to know her
computer imaging cold.
 Not to confuse
detachment with callousness. In Pelster's place--working with the
cadaver day after day--I'd have coped the same way
 The Associated Press
quoted Oxford and Nelson.
980 F.2d 292
Joseph Paul Jernigan,
James A. Collins, Director, Texas Department of
Institutional Division, Respondent-Appellee.
States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.
Dec. 15, 1992.
Rehearing Denied Jan. 20, 1993
Appeal from the United States
District Court for the Northern District of
Before JOLLY, DAVIS, and
SMITH, Circuit Judges.
E. GRADY JOLLY, Circuit Judge:
In 1981, a jury in Texas
state court found Joseph Paul Jernigan guilty of
the cold-blooded murder of Edward Hale and made
the findings necessary to sentence Jernigan to
death. Jernigan now seeks habeas corpus relief
under 28 U.S.C. 2254. He contends that in the
absence of certain errors by his counsel and the
trial judge, he would not have received the
death penalty. Finding no merit in his arguments,
the district court granted summary judgment in
favor of the respondent, James A. Collins, the
director of the Texas Department of Criminal
Justice. We believe that Jernigan is not
entitled to habeas relief because he has not
demonstrated that any errors on the part of his
attorney or the trial judge prejudiced his trial.
We, therefore, affirm the decision of the
* On July 3, 1981, Joseph
Paul Jernigan and an accomplice burglarized a
home near the town of Dawson, Texas. While they
were there, the owner, Edward Hale, returned.
Jernigan attacked Hale, hitting him repeatedly
in the face with an ashtray and attempting
unsuccessfully to stab him with a kitchen knife.
Jernigan then grabbed a nearby shotgun and shot
Hale in the chest and neck. After the shooting,
Jernigan continued to burglarize the house.
The sheriff arrested Jernigan
several days later based on information his wife,
Vicki Jernigan, provided. A few days after his
arrest, Jernigan confessed to the murder of
On November 4, 1981, a jury
convicted Jernigan of capital murder. The jury
made the findings required by Texas law for the
imposition of the death penalty, and the state
trial court accordingly sentenced Jernigan to
On direct appeal, the Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed the
conviction and sentence. See Jernigan v. State,
661 S.W.2d 936, 943 (Tex.Crim.App.1983) (en banc).
The court held that Jernigan's confession was
legally obtained, the jury was properly selected
and instructed, there were no errors in the
joinder of portions of the indictment, and the
prosecutors' closing argument did not deny
Jernigan a fair trial. The United States Supreme
Court denied a petition for writ of certiorari.
In March of 1984, Jernigan
sought collateral review in the Texas state
courts. After an evidentiary hearing, the state
trial court found, inter alia, that Jernigan's
attorneys effectively assisted him at trial and
adequately prepared for the sentencing phase of
his trial. Accordingly, the state trial court
denied Jernigan's habeas petition. The Texas
Court of Criminal Appeals also denied him relief.
At the time he petitioned the
state court for habeas relief, Jernigan also
petitioned the United States District Court, for
the Northern District of Texas, for a writ of
habeas corpus. Jernigan filed the petition on
the docket of Judge Porter, who entered a stay
of execution on March 16, 1984. Jernigan
contended he was entitled to the writ on
eighteen grounds. The respondent, James A.
Collins, director of the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice, moved for summary judgment and
both sides filed briefs with the court. After
hearing oral argument, the district court
adopted the findings of the state court and
granted summary judgment in favor of Collins.
* Jernigan argues that the
Texas statutory scheme did not allow the jury to
consider his mitigating evidence. Jernigan's
death sentence was based on the jury's
affirmative responses to the following two
1) Was the conduct of the
defendant that caused the death of the deceased
committed deliberately and with the reasonable
expectation that the death of the deceased would
2) Is there a probability
that the defendant would commit criminal acts of
violence that would constitute a continuing
threat to society?
Relying on our holding in
Graham v. Collins, 950 F.2d 1009 (5th Cir.1992)
(en banc), the district court held that the
Texas capital sentencing statute permitted the
jury to fully consider the mitigating evidence
that Jernigan offered. In Graham, the Fifth
Circuit held "that Penry does not invalidate the
Texas statutory scheme, and that Jurek continues
to apply, in instances where no major mitigating
thrust of the evidence is substantially beyond
the scope of all the special issues." Graham,
950 F.2d at 1027. Jernigan is now arguing that
the Fifth Circuit reached the wrong decision in
Graham. He relies--we must say, rather weakly--on
the fact that Graham was a close decision, and
that the Supreme Court has granted the writ of
certiorari in Graham, casting doubt on our
decision in Graham.
It must be no surprise that
we think that Graham and Penry are harmonic. In
Penry v. Lynaugh, 492 U.S. 302, 109 S.Ct. 2934,
106 L.Ed.2d 256 (1989), the state of Texas
convicted the defendant of murder and sentenced
him to death. In the sentencing stage of his
trial, the defendant presented mitigating
evidence indicating that he was mildly retarded
and that his parents had abused him while he was
The Supreme Court held that
the Texas special issues, without a special
instruction, did not allow the jury to give
effect to the defendant's mitigating evidence,
and, hence, the jury's answers to the special
issues did not reflect a "reasoned moral
response" to the defendant's mitigating evidence.
Penry, 492 U.S. at 322, 109 S.Ct. at 2949.
In Graham, we reevaluated the
Texas statutory scheme in the light of the
Supreme Court's decision in Penry. The
defendant's mitigating evidence in that case was
his youth and his difficult childhood. The Fifth
Circuit held that the Texas statutory scheme
allowed the jury fully to consider the
defendant's mitigating evidence. See also
Cordova v. Collins, 953 F.2d 167 (5th Cir.1992).
In the instant case,
Jernigan's brother-in-law and his sister-in-law
both gave mitigating evidence at the sentence
phase of Jernigan's trial. Both of them
testified basically that Jernigan was a kind,
gentle person who deserves a second chance.
Jernigan's brother-in-law testified that
Jernigan had rededicated his life to God.
Despite counsel's able
arguments, we think that the Texas Special
Issues allowed the jury to consider Jernigan's
mitigating evidence. First, Graham is the
prevailing law in this circuit. Second,
irrespective of the continuing viability of
Graham, the jury was easily able to give effect
to Jernigan's mitigating evidence when it
answered special issue number two, which relates
to whether Jernigan represents a continuing
threat to society. Jernigan's evidence that he
is kind and gentle suggests that he is not a
continuing threat to society. Unfortunately for
Jernigan, the jury found otherwise.
We now turn to Jernigan's
ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
Jernigan argues that the district court used the
wrong standard when it concluded that his
attorneys provided him with effective assistance
at trial. Jernigan contends that the district
court erred when it presumed that the state
court's factual findings were correct. Jernigan
further contends that the district court erred
when it granted summary judgment in favor of
Collins because the affidavits of Ms. Tullos
Kozlowski and Lynn Malone, relating to his
future dangerousness, created a genuine issue of
We begin with Jernigan's
allegation that the district court used the
wrong standard when it evaluated his claim that
his attorneys did not provide effective
assistance of counsel. In the district court,
Jernigan alleged that his trial counsel were
ineffective in twelve different respects. Noting
that Jernigan did not plead the claims with the
requisite specificity, the district court
dismissed seven of Jernigan's twelve ineffective
assistance claims. The district court considered
Jernigan's five remaining claims individually
before rejecting them.
Contrary to Jernigan's
argument, the district court correctly applied
the two-part standard for evaluating ineffective
assistance of counsel claims that the Supreme
Court established in Strickland v. Washington,
466 U.S. 668, 687, 104 S.Ct. 2052, 2064, 80 L.Ed.2d
674 (1984). Under Strickland, the defendant must
first demonstrate that "his counsel's
performance was deficient." For his counsel's
performance to be deficient, the defendant must
show that his attorney's errors were "so serious
that his counsel was not functioning as the 'counsel'
" the Sixth Amendment guarantees the defendant.
Id. Second, the defendant must also show that
his counsel's performance prejudiced him and
lead to a trial "whose result is unreliable." Id.
The petitioner has the burden of proof on this
claim. He must demonstrate, by a preponderance
of the evidence, that his counsel was
ineffective. Martin v. Maggio, 711 F.2d 1273,
1279 (5th Cir.1983).
Moving on to the substance of
Jernigan's ineffective assistance of counsel
claim, Jernigan complains that his attorneys
failed to prepare for the punishment phase of
his trial. He contends that his attorneys failed
to investigate his background and interview his
family members. In the state court habeas corpus
hearing, the court found that Jernigan's
attorneys did investigate his background and
prepare for the punishment phase of his trial.
The district court presumed
that the state court's factual findings were
correct and granted summary judgment in favor of
the respondent, Collins. Jernigan contends that
the district court should not have adopted the
state court's factual findings. Consequently,
Jernigan argues that he is entitled to a federal
hearing to evaluate his ineffective assistance
of counsel claim.
Jernigan's argument fails for
two reasons. First, Jernigan bears the burden of
proving there is a need for a federal
evidentiary hearing to evaluate his claim. To
meet that burden, Jernigan must demonstrate that
his "allegations, if proved, would establish the
right to habeas relief." Streetman v. Lynaugh,
812 F.2d 950, 956 (5th Cir.1987), quoting
Townsend v. Sain, 372 U.S. 293, 307, 83 S.Ct.
745, 754, 9 L.Ed.2d 770 (1963). Jernigan has
failed to meet this burden. As noted above,
under Strickland, in order to make out an
ineffective assistance of counsel claim, the
defendant must demonstrate, inter alia, that his
counsel's performance prejudiced him and led to
a trial "whose result is unreliable." Strickland,
466 U.S. at 687, 104 S.Ct. at 2064.
According to Jernigan, if his
attorneys had investigated his background and
interviewed his family members, they would have
discovered mitigating evidence that would have
convinced the jury not to give him the death
penalty. The record does not support this
Jernigan's family members
testified in the state court habeas hearing, and
their testimony does not add substantially to
what was said by those who testified at trial.
Jernigan's lead attorney, Jimmy Morris,
testified that he made a strategic decision not
to call more members of his family because, in
his experience, juries do not respond well to
that kind of evidence. Thus, Jernigan has not
established prejudice and, hence, we must reject
his ineffective assistance of counsel claim.
assistance of counsel claim also fails because
federal law generally requires the district
court to presume that the state court correctly
found the facts in its habeas corpus hearing. 28
U.S.C. 2254; King v. Collins, 945 F.2d 867, 868
(5th Cir.1991). Thus, unless Jernigan
demonstrates that his case falls within one of
the exceptions to this rule, the district court
was fully justified when it accepted the factual
findings of the state court.
Jernigan argues that the
district court should have disregarded the state
court's findings for the following three reasons.
First, the state court hearing was not full and
fair. Second, the state court hearing did not
adequately develop the material facts. Third,
the record does not adequately support the
findings of the state court. 28 U.S.C.
2254(d)(3, 6, 8).
We begin with Jernigan's
contention that the state court hearing was not
full and fair. This argument is frivolous.
Jernigan was a party to the proceeding, and he
was represented by counsel. Furthermore, the
court afforded him every opportunity to be heard.
Accordingly, the state court provided a full and
fair hearing. See King, 945 F.2d at 868; Sumner
v. Mata, 449 U.S. 539, 546-547, 101 S.Ct. 764,
769, 66 L.Ed.2d 722 (1981).
Next, we consider Jernigan's
contention that the parties did not adequately
develop the material facts in the state court
proceeding. We will only excuse a federal habeas
corpus petitioner's failure to develop material
facts and mandate a federal evidentiary hearing
under two circumstances: First, the petitioner
can show cause for his failure to develop the
facts in the state court proceeding and actual
prejudice resulting from that failure; and
second, when the petitioner can show that a
fundamental miscarriage of justice would result
from the failure to hold a federal evidentiary
hearing. Keeney v. Tamayo-Reyes, --- U.S. ----,
----, 112 S.Ct. 1715, 1721, 118 L.Ed.2d 318
Jernigan can neither show
cause for his failure to present evidence, nor
can he demonstrate that the failure to hold a
federal evidentiary hearing has resulted in a
fundamental miscarriage of justice. To show
cause, Jernigan must demonstrate that "some
objective factor external to the defense impeded
counsel's efforts" to develop the evidence.
McCleskey v. Zant, 499 U.S. ----, ----, 111 S.Ct.
1454, 1470, 113 L.Ed.2d 517 (1991). No external
concerns or events prevented Jernigan from
calling his witnesses, and we have already
concluded that the state court afforded him a
full and fair hearing. Similarly, Jernigan
cannot show that the absence of a federal
evidentiary hearing has resulted in a
fundamental miscarriage of justice.
To show a fundamental
miscarriage of justice, Jernigan would have to
demonstrate "by clear and convincing evidence
that but for a constitutional error, no
reasonable juror would have found [him] eligible
for the death penalty." Sawyer v. Whitley, ---
U.S. ----, ----, 112 S.Ct. 2514, 2517, 120 L.Ed.2d
269 (1992). As noted above, Jernigan's new
mitigating evidence is cumulative of what he
presented at trial, and it certainly does not
show that a reasonable jury would not have given
him the death penalty. Thus, we must reject
Jernigan's argument that he deserves a federal
hearing because the facts were not adequately
developed in the state hearing.
We now turn to Jernigan's
allegation that the record does not support the
state court's findings. In particular, Jernigan
complains about findings of fact numbers
seventeen and nineteen:
17) The family members'
testimony presented by Applicant at this hearing
would not have helped Applicant in any way in
the trial and would not have changed the outcome
of the trial.
19) The attorneys for
Applicant did make an investigation into
Applicant's background for the purpose of
securing witnesses to testify in mitigation of
punishment and they called all of the witnesses
that they believed would help the Applicant, and
the attorneys for the Applicant strategically
determined that the people named by Applicant in
his petition for writ of habeas corpus would be
more than helpful to Applicant's case.
We find unconvincing
Jernigan's argument that the record does not
support these findings. Jernigan's argument is
based on the affidavit of Ms. Tullos Kozlowski,
one of his trial attorneys. Kozlowski, who did
not testify at the hearing, now claims that she
did little or nothing to prepare for trial. She
specifically asserts that she did not speak to
Jernigan's family members or otherwise prepare
for the sentencing phase of the trial.
Despite Kozlowski's current
allegations, we believe that the record supports
the state court's findings. Kozlowski seems to
have exaggerated her role in the trial. It was
her first murder trial, and in the sentencing
phase of the trial, she only cross-examined one
witness. Mr. Morris, the lead attorney, had
already participated in over a hundred murder
trials and is now a judge on the Texas court of
At the state habeas corpus
hearing, he testified that he prepared for the
sentencing phase of the trial, and that he made
a tactical decision not to call Jernigan's
family members because, in his experience,
juries do not respond well to this kind of
evidence. Furthermore, as we have already noted,
testimony by several more of Jernigan's family
members would not have added substantially to
the evidence before the jury. Thus, from our
review of the testimony of Jernigan's family
members and the testimony of Morris, we conclude
that the state court's findings are fully
Finally, we consider
Jernigan's contention that the testimony of
three attorneys at the sentencing phase
prejudiced his trial. The three attorneys were:
1) Mr. Lynn Malone, a district attorney in
another court, 2) Mr. Walden, an assistant
attorney general for the state of Texas, and 3)
Mr. Nicholson, a former judge. They all
testified during the punishment phase of the
trial that Jernigan was likely to commit violent
criminal acts in the future. These attorneys
were not professional experts in human behavior,
and only one of them had any personal knowledge
about the defendant. Jernigan argues that this
evidence was unreliable and its admission
violated his rights under the Fifth, Sixth, and
We review state evidentiary
rulings merely to determine whether the trial
judge's error was so extreme that it constituted
a denial of fundamental fairness. Evans v.
Thigpen, 809 F.2d 239, 242 (5th Cir.1987). Thus,
the erroneous admission of prejudicial testimony
justifies habeas corpus relief only when it
played a "crucial, critical [and] highly
significant" role in the trial. Andrade v.
McCotter, 805 F.2d 1190, 1193 (5th Cir.1986).
Because our review is limited to errors of
constitutional dimension, federal courts do not
review the mere admissibility of evidence under
state law. Peters v. Whitley, 942 F.2d 937, 940
Collins argues that the
testimony of the attorneys was admissible under
state law, and hence, admission of the evidence
was not an error reaching constitutional
dimension. The Texas courts have held that the
lay opinion of a prosecutor is relevant and
admissible evidence in a capital case on the
issue of the defendant's future dangerousness.
Esquivel v. State, 595 S.W.2d 516, 527-528 (Tex.Crim.App.1980);
Simmons v. State, 594 S.W.2d 760, 763 (Tex.Crim.App.1980);
Burns v. State, 556 S.W.2d 270, 280 (Tex.Crim.App.1977).
In Burns, a district attorney
testified during the sentencing stage of a
murder trial that "once they have committed one
offense they are a menace to society and
continue to do so," and that in his opinion, the
defendant would commit violent criminal acts in
the future. Id. The situation in Burns is
analogous to the instant case. Thus, the
precedents make clear that the evidence of the
three attorneys was admissible under Texas law.
Even if the evidence was not
admissible in Texas, Jernigan has not
demonstrated that the evidentiary error, if any,
made his trial fundamentally unfair. He had
every opportunity to cross-examine the attorneys
and to call his own witnesses to rebut their
testimony. Relying on Malone's affidavit,
Jernigan argues that the attorneys' testimony
was full of misrepresentations. Malone's
affidavit, however, does not indicate that he
misrepresented the truth when he testified.
Instead, he says in his affidavit that he now
believes that the judge should not have
permitted the jury to consider his testimony
because he was not qualified to testify.
Moreover, the testimony of
the three attorneys played a small role in the
trial. The state presented evidence that
Jernigan had been involved in numerous other
crimes including several other violent
burglaries. The state also presented evidence
concerning Jernigan's behavior while in custody
that indicated he was a violent person. Finally,
seven law enforcement officers testified that
Jernigan was reputed to be a violent, dishonest
person. Considered in the light of all the other
evidence, the testimony of the three attorneys
was not a critical, highly significant part of
the trial and, thus, does not, in any event,
justify habeas corpus relief.
For all of the foregoing
reasons, we AFFIRM the decision of the district