An autopsy revealing the wrong suture may lead to a charge of murder, but a conviction requires "proof beyond a reasonable doubt" and I would bet a decent lawyer could raise that doubt. "Your honor, my client did not realize that the nurse gave him the wrong suture."
Maybe back in the 1970's when these shows were written the cases may have led to a conviction, but in this day and age I would bet that a lot of Columbo's killers would walk.
Puzzling thing is, cassavetes, about the murder of Harry Alexander - it doesn't seem absolutely clear that he was dead. On the DVD I recently bought, Columbo doesn't explicitly say that Alexander has died; and he never accuses Dr. Mayfield of murdering him. I only assume that Alexander is dead because had he survived, he would have been able to give evidence against his assailant, and Dr. Mayfield would have been the obvious suspect. But falling down a staircase under the influence of drugs is not a sure-fired way of being killed. Why does Columbo or someone not mention that he died, and why does he never accuse Dr. Mayfield of murdering him?
Very good stuff James.....now the only thing that I could think of was the fact that it wasn't really the fall that killed him (if he was indeed killed??) but the dosage of the drug....a simple case of and O.D.
But you are right.........there is no mention of his death....very curious!!!!!