DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Jury selection is starting in the trial of a Detroit-area man who is charged with dealing diseased body parts.
Arthur Rathburn rented out body parts for medical or dental training, a legitimate business. But he’s charged with covering up the fact that the parts had tested positive for hepatitis B and HIV.
A jury is being picked Thursday in Detroit federal court. There will be no body parts in court, but jurors probably will see photos.
Rathburn is accused of fraud, making false statements and transporting hazardous materials. He was offered a plea deal and a prison sentence of four to five years, but turned it down. His ex-wife, who pleaded guilty to fraud in the case, is expected to testify against him.
As alleged in the 13-count indictment, Rathburn and his wife worked as cadaver dealers, obtaining donated bodies through deceit and then distributing them while ignoring industry standard precautions.
Rathburn allegedly didn’t use industry standard equipment, but instead used a chainsaw to dismember the bodies, and then stacked diseased human heads on top of other heads, disregarding any risk of cross-contamination.
In one 2012 instance, the indictment details, he allegedly shipped, on a Delta cargo plane, an infected head wrapped in a garbage bag and packed in a camping cooler, falsely claiming it had been embalmed. Seven other human heads, along with large quantities of blood, were also part of the shipment and packed in the same unsafe and illegal manner, according to the indictment.
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