Wife's injuries consistent with 'being pushed down,' expert testifies at Buschauer trial

  • Frank Buschauer

    Frank Buschauer

Updated 7/18/2019 6:27 PM

The former assistant Cook County medical examiner who ruled Cynthia Hrisco drowned in her South Barrington home's bathtub 19 years ago testified Thursday that her injuries were consistent with "being pushed down against a firm surface."

Dr. Scott Denton testified for the prosecution Thursday at the bench trial of Hrisco's husband, Frank Buschauer, who authorities say murdered his wife after their three-year marriage began to sour. Arrested in Wisconsin in 2013, Buschauer, 70, has pleaded not guilty.


On Hrisco's death certificate, Denton listed drowning as the cause of death following an autopsy he conducted several hours after police responded to Buschauer's early morning 911 call on Feb. 28, 2000.

Denton said Hrisco, 47, was healthy, and his examination revealed no evidence of a seizure, heat stroke, drugs, alcohol or disease except for rheumatoid arthritis, which he said did not cause her drowning. He said scrapes and bruises on her nose, chin, knee and knuckles could have been caused by pressure or scraping at or near the time of death. None were consistent with her passing out and drowning, he added.

"My cause of death was always drowning," said Denton, who initially listed the manner of death as "undetermined."

In 2012, after reviewing Denton's reports, another former Cook County medical examiner, Stephen Cina, replaced "undetermined" with "homicide."

Questioned by defense attorney Cindy Giacchetti, Denton attributed his decision to list "undetermined" as manner of death to "relative inexperience" and unfamiliarity with "traditional bathtub drownings."

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Denton later stated his "impression was (Hrisco's death) never rose above suspicious."

He said that in 2000 he didn't know about an Illinois State Police interview with Buschauer after Hrisco's death or of the couple's marital troubles.

Denton acknowledged police told him they interviewed Buschauer, who said Hrisco hadn't been feeling well and had had a fever.

Testimony will resume July 30.

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