North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner

N.C. OCME Annual Report 1993

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Chapter 4: Homicides

Although homicides represent only 11 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 the autopsy that is performed in all suspected homicides is often critical in the authorities' investigation and essential for the successful prosecution (and at times the defense) of the case.

Figure 3 shows that firearms account for slightly over two-thirds of all homicides, more than half of which involved handguns. . Figure 4 breaks down homicides by means and alcohol levels. Victims killed by sharp instruments, shotguns and unspecified guns were most likely to have alcohol in their system, but alcohol was clearly involved in a significant number of all homicides.

Figure 3
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Means of Death

 

Figure 4
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Means and Alcohol Level
* Total number tested for alcohol

Homicide death rates by race, sex and age group are shown in Table 7 and Figure 5. The homicide rate for nonwhite males, as shown in Table 7, was five and a half times the rate for white males. Nonwhite females also showed 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.

Table 7: 1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Death Rates by Race and Sex (per 100,000 population)

  White Nonwhite Total
Male 10.4 57.5 21.4
Female 4.0 13.8 6.4
Total 7.2 34.2 13.7

Figure 5
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Death Rates by Race and Age Group

Figure 6
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Race-Sex Group and Alcohol Level
* Total number tested for alcohol

Figure 5 also shows that most of the excess homicide mortality in nonwhites is between ages 15-44 years. Homicide death rates by age and the percentages of alcohol use for each age group are shown in Figures 7 and 8 respectively. The age group 25-34 had the highest homicide rate, while age group 35-44 had the highest percent of alcohol intoxication.

Figure 7
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Death Rates by Age Group

Figure 8
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Age Group and Alcohol Level

*Total number tested for alcohol

Figure 9
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Hour of Injury

Homicides by hour of injury are shown in Figure 9. The hours preceding and following midnight had the highest frequency of homicides, although a clear dip in homicides appears at midnight. (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.) Figure 10 shows that the highest frequency of homicides occurred on weekends. The peak months for homicides are usually in the summer; in 1993, the winter months showed a slightly higher frequency (Figure 11).

Figure 10
1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Day of Injury
*Day runs from 6:00am -5:59 am

Figure 11

1993 Medical Examiner Homicide Cases by Month of Injury

 

Last Modified: March 9, 2017