A Philadelphia judge last week ruled that a lawsuit filed by the family of Ellen Greenberg against the medical examiner who ruled she died by suicide — with 20 stab wounds to her body — can go forward.
The 27-year-old first grade teacher was found dead in her Manayunk apartment on January 26, 2011, after returning early from school to the sixth flood apartment she shared with her fiance because of a snowstorm. Her fiance, Sam Goldberg, told police he left to go to the gym shortly after she returned, and found the door locked from the inside when he got back, as CrimeOnline previously reported.
After unsuccessfully attempting to reach Greenberg, he told investigators, he kicked the door in, accompanied by an apartment security guard. He reported finding Greenberg’s body in the kitchen.
Because Greenberg’s apartment had been locked from the inside, neighbors heard nothing, and no security footage showed anything amiss, investigators at first worked the case as a suicide but changed to homicide after the medical examiner’s preliminary examination. In the end though — in March — the medical examiner determined that Greenberg had died from a suicide, with stab wounds on her head, neck, and torso.
Greenberg’s parents — Joshua and Sandra Greenberg — were never satisfied with the ruling. In 2019, they filed suit against the medical examiner’s office and medical examiner Marlon Osbourne, accusing them of a sloppy investigation that missed key elements of evidence and mischaracterized their daughter’s death. They want the manner of death overturned.
On October 16, the Greenbergs attorney, Joe Podraza, presented evidence that countered the official report, including video and a signed statement from the apartment security guard that Goldberg was alone when he kicked in the door to the apartment.
Most damning, however, was the deposition of a city-hired medical expert who said that Ellen Greenberg may have been already dead when she was stabbed, the Washington Post reported.
Neuropathologist Lyndsey Emery said in the deposition that it was “significant … that there’s no hemorrhage” to Greenberg’s multiple wounds, meaning that in all likelihood she was dead prior to the stabbing.
“I mean, in general, no hemorrhage means no pulse,” Emery said.
“People without pulses do not stab themselves repeatedly,” Podraza said. “So that, by itself, establishes suicide is absolutely impossible in this case.”
Podraza also presented to the judge a number of questions that he said were never adequately answered. Greenberg filled her car up with gas on her way home from school. She didn’t leave a note. She ate half of a fruit salad and left the rest on the counter.
A city attorney argued that the Greenbergs were trying to overturn the medical examiner’s opinion, made from years of experience, with their own speculation, that they misinterpreted statements made by the office to mean there was a possibility Greenberg was murdered, and that police are under no obligation agree with the medical examiner’s opinion.
In the end, however, the judge decided that the case should go forward and the evidence should be presented fully to a non-jury trial. A date has not been set, but Greenberg’s parents are happy they’re allowed to continue their efforts.
Sandra Greenberg told KYW she was “very pleased that the court is allowing this case to go to trial. We look forward to the trial in hopes of obtaining justice for Ellen.”
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[Featured image: Ellen Greenberg/Facebook]