N.C. OCME Annual Report 1992
Chapter 4: Homicides
Although homicides represent only 10 percent of all medical examiner cases, their identification and investigation is one of the more important contributions that the system provides the state. In some instances it is only the medical examiner's investigation that uncovers a homicide in what might otherwise have seemed an unsuspicious death. Just as important, it may exonerate the innocent when what initially appears to be a suspicious death proves to be otherwise. The information uncovered at autopsy is often critical in the authorities' investigation and essential for the successful prosecution of the case.
Figure 3 shows that firearms account for two-thirds of all homicides, more than one-half of these are handguns. Most of the guns not otherwise specified (NOS) are also handguns. Figure 4 breaks down homicides by means and alcohol levels. Victims killed by rifles and sharp instruments were most likely to have alcohol in their system, but alcohol was clearly involved in a significant number of all homicides.
Table 7: 1992 Medical Examiner Homicide Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)
Homicide death rates by race and sex are shown in Table 7. The homicide rate for nonwhite males, as shown in Figure 5, was five times the rate for white males. Nonwhite females showed similar disproportionate victimization compared to their white counterparts. Percentages of alcohol use for each race-sex group are shown in Figure 6; alcohol intoxication was most common in male homicide victims. Figure 5 also shows that most of the homicide mortality in nonwhites is between ages 15-44 years.
Homicides by hour of injury are shown in Figure 9. It can be seen that the hours around and including midnight had the highest frequency of homicides.
Figure 10 shows that the highest frequency of homicides occurred on weekends. (The day is defined as beginning at 6 a.m. rather than midnight because activities in the early morning hours are usually continuing from the preceding day.) The peak months for homicides are usually summer though 1992 showed a peak in October as well (Figure 11).