Cleaver victim stabbed 56 times

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Cleaver victim stabbed 56 times

Doctor says [the accused] sustained several defensive wounds

[the victim] sustained 56 cuts top the head, neck and body and bled to death, the doctor who performed the autopsy on the victim testified at his alleged killer’s trial on Tuesday.  Dr. Craig Litwin, assistant chief medical examiner, told Crown prosecutor Gary Cornfield that the injuries were consistent with having been caused by a meat cleaver. The cleaver, which had a 15-centimetre-long blade, as found beside [the victim’s] body on the floor of [the accused killer’s] basement suite in Forest Lawn on Oct. 12. 

“The mechanism is the underlying process, the cause is the physical basis for that death - blood loss,” said Litwin.

[the accused], 19, is on trial for second-degree murder in the death of [the victim], 18. The fatal blows came during an alleged confrontation between the men late that afternoon. Litwin also noted there were a number of injuries to the victim’s head, hands and extremities that could be interpreted as defensive wounds.    There were a total of 20 cuts to the right side of [the victim’s] face and at least nine cuts to the scalp, one of them about a centimetre deep, he said.  
Although no cuts penetrated the skull, said Litwin, there were a number of linear impressions to the skull, any of which could have caused unconsciousness. Litwin said toxicology tests conducted on the victim’s blood showed he had a blood-alcohol level of .15 - nearly double the legal driving limit of .08 - and a cocaine level of .13, consistent with recreational use of the drug. The victim’s mother sobbed and shielded her face as Litwin explained the injuries and pointed out the wounds in photographs to the jury. She once left the courtroom for a few minutes.

[T]he victim’s older brother lunged toward [the accused] and yelled, “You think you’re tough...” as the accused was being led away by security at the lunch break. 

The brother was quickly admonished and warned about such outbursts by a court sheriff and did not cause any further disruptions.  Under cross-examination by defence lawyer David Chow, Litwin acknowledged the vast majority of wounds were of depths of three millimetres or less, which would be classified as superficial. However, he added: “The scalp has vascular tissue and a single large cut without medical intervention, could be fatal.”

Litwin also agreed that all of the injuries to the victim could have been caused by broken glass found on the floor following the fatal struggle. The trial before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice John Rooke and jury continues today.         



Calgary Herald

By: Daryl Slade