In what position was Haden lying at the time of the shooting? Could he have shot himself from that position? Could Bill have shot him?
1. The prosecution claimed that Haden was lying on his left side at the time of his death.
2. The defence claimed that he was lying on his back.
3. The bullet was found in Haden’s pillow.
4. The gunshot entered on the right side of Haden’s skull near the right ear and came out on the left side of his skull near his left ear. This means that his head was on its side, with his left ear towards the pillow, when he was shot.
5. When Chubbie found Haden after the shooting he was lying on his back. We have no reason to think that she was lying, nor was there any reason for her to lie about such a thing.
6. Bill also reported that Haden was lying on his back when he found him. If Bill shot Haden, he would have had no reason to afterwards push Haden from his left side onto his back.
7. The gun was tucked down by Haden’s right hand side when Chubbie spotted it. If Haden was lying on his left hand side when he shot himself, the gun could have fallen onto the left-hand side of the bed. If he was lying on his back, the gun would almost certainly have fallen on the right-hand side.
7. The Colt .38 has a long barrel. This has led authors like Colin Evans in A Question of Evidence: The Casebook of Great Forensic Controversies from Napoleon to O.J. Simpson, to say that it would be impossible to shoot oneself in the head with it. However the ballistics witness, Albert Hamilton, held the gun to his head during the trial and fired the trigger showing that Evans was wrong, that it was indeed possible to shoot oneself with it.
8. The defence, in its suicide argument, provided an explanation as to why Haden turned his head to the side to shoot himself while lying on his back. Carson argued that if Haden had remained on his back and fired the shot through his right temple, the shot could have crossed the room and killed Bill, therefore Haden’s action was altruistic.
9. The most likely explanation – if it was a suicide – seems less altruistic. Haden was lying in a single bed, probably little more than three feet wide, which was pushed up against a wall. For someone lying on their back, the wall was on the right-hand side of the bed. If Haden was lying on his back and attempted to lift a long-barrelled gun and put it to his right temple, he wouldn’t have had enough elbow room. However, if he turned his head to the left, he would not only have had more elbow room, the angle would have been less of a strain on his arm and shoulder muscles.
10. Bill could also have taken the shot. Physically, yes; he was a trained soldier. Again, it wouldn’t have been the easiest of shots because of the table between the beds and because of the need to fire the shot in such a way that it mimicked a suicide shot. Bill would have needed to lift the gun from the box without disturbing a man who was having pain-induced sleeping problems and was probably only sleeping lightly. He would have had to climb out of bed, stand over Haden and line up the shot then slam the gun into Haden’s head and fire the shot before Haden had time to react and pull away. It would be a brutal act from one who – according to the available evidence – had never previously fired a gun at another person.
11. Would Bill have been likely to kill Haden? When Bill asked Haden if he would sound out Chubbie about smuggling as a solution to their financial problems, Haden deterred him by saying that Chubbie didn’t want him to do so and that it would hurt her if he did. Killing her fiancée would hurt her even more.
It is likely that Haden was lying on his back when he was shot, with his head turned to the left side. Either he or Bill could have fired the shot although it would have been harder for Bill to make that particular shot with those results.