A forensic pathologist testified Wednesday that Loren Donn Leslie, 15, died from a combination of blood loss and brain injury as a result of “blows to the side of the head and a [deep] puncture wound to the neck.”
Under direct questioning from Crown prosecutor Joseph Temple, Dr. John Stefanelli of Kamloops said “that central puncture wound went deep.”
Indeed, it caused damage to the voice box (larynx) and although no major neck vessels such as carotoid arteries were involved, other small arteries and veins were, he said.
“It was a serious wound that caused a significant amount of bleeding.”
He told the 14-person B.C. Supreme Court jury:
“With medical attention, the [neck] wound would have been survivable … without medical attention (or applying pressure) it would have been fatal.”
The pathologist described, in detail, injuries shown in photographs taken during the Dec. 2, 2010 autopsy including those to Leslie’s hands, which Stefanelli said were consistent with defensive wounds, several cuts and bruises, broken nose bone – she’d been “struck quite hard on the front of her face, at least once,” he said.
Further, Leslie had swollen and broken fingers on her left hand which appeared to have been “stomped on.”
Leslie’s body was found off Hwy. 27 November 27, 2010.
Cody Legebokoff, now 24, is standing trial in Prince George charged with killing Leslie as well as three other area women, Jill Stuchenko, Cynthia Maas and Natasha Montgomery.
Testifying on Day 8 of the trial, Stefanelli said that with respect to Leslie’s head wounds, he could not quantify the force used to inflict them.
“It’s a significant amount of force, obviously,” he said.
Looking at one photo, the pathologist shook his head, then explained he’d had to shave the right side of Leslie’s head in order to view and examine the extent of the wounds. His voice softened.
“She had quite lovely … long hair – that’s why it’s not there,” he said.
Towards the end of his questions, Temple asked Stefanelli if he believed the injuries to Leslie could have been self-inflicted.
“I don’t think that is possible,” the pathologist said.
He noted that Leslie had at least three blows to the head which caused deep cuts – any one of which would have had incapacitating effects on her and rendering her unable to perform the other injuries found on her body “no matter in what order.”
Given the puncture wounds and hand injuries [including fractures to her fingers] when you add those factors together, he said, “I don’t think she would have been capable of doing them to herself.”
Cross-examination of Stefanelli is expected to begin Thursday morning.
None of the allegations against Legebokoff have been proven in court. The trial began on June 2 and for the first few days at least saw national media and a full gallery in attendance. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Glen Parrett is presiding over the case which is expected to last six months or more.