But not so fast. The military doctor who did the autopsy on Peralta's body claimed that one of the bullet wounds to his head would have been almost instantly lethal, and precluded any possibility of "meaningful action" on his part after receiving it. The surgeon who had tried to save Peralta disagrees; so do two other military pathologists who have studied the autopsy records. But the doctor who actually did the autopsy stands by his findings.
But the eye-witnesses agree that he did scoop the grenade under his body, and the notion that he could have done so involuntarily seems quite a bit less than even mimimally credible. People have been executed in cases in which the evidence cast substantially more doubt upon their guilt than it seems to upon the voluntary nature of Sgt. Peralta's action. And the standard of proof in American criminal trials is, of course, the very standard Secretary of Defense Gates cited today in explaining the decision not to award Sg. Peralta the Medal of Honor: reasonable doubt.