The Law: Heart of the Defense

When José Flores drove on the wrong side of the road near Santa Rosa, Calif., and hit an oncoming car, one of the victims, Colenda Ward, 12, suffered irreversible brain damage. Flores, 23, was charged with manslaughter and felonious drunken driving. But there was a macabre technicality. After determining that Colenda had suffered cerebral death, doctors successfully transplanted her heart into a patient at the Stanford University Medical Center.

Well and good, said Flores' lawyer, but that meant that the critical evidence —the corpse—had been tampered with. Further, he argued, "when somebody causes injury and then when another agency because of its...

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