KAMLOOPS - The fractured skull of a man allegedly beaten to death by his nephew resembled a jigsaw puzzle and his mouth was stuffed with dirt, a pathologist has testified.
Shane Gyoba, 29, has been charged with second-degree murder in connection with the June 2014 death of his uncle, Ed Gyoba.
B.C. Supreme Court has heard a witness saw Shane Gyoba beating his uncle with a shovel following a fist fight in the front yard of a home in Ashcroft.
Dr. James Stephen said he performed an autopsy that showed Gyoba died as a result of massive head injuries.
Stephen found five bone fragments and multiple fracture lines on the right side of Gyoba’s skull.
“I found 10 or more pieces of this jigsaw-like skull fracture,” he said.
“There are multiple fractures at the base of the skull and multiple fractures on the upper part of the globe on the skull.”
Stephen said he found eight areas of injury on Gyoba’s body, likely the result of more than six blows, likely with a shovel or perhaps a shovel and an axe or a pipe.
He said Gyoba’s mouth had been filled with dirt prior to his death.
“I believe there is good evidence he was alive when the dirt was put in his mouth," he said.
“He swallowed some of the dirt. Dirt was found in his esophagus. He breathed some of the dirt. Dirt was found in his airways.”
Stephen said he believed Gyoba was likely unconscious when he ingested the dirt.
Gyoba’s widow has told court that Shane Gyoba’s arrival in Ashcroft 15 years ago turned her life upside down.
Barb Gyoba said Shane Gyoba’s father died before he was a teenager and that when he was 14, he moved from Saskatoon to live with the couple.
Gyoba said the accused had been in trouble with the law in Saskatoon and was on probation when he came to Ashcroft.
At that point in her testimony, Shane Gyoba interrupted his aunt, saying, “Don’t confuse me and Ed. Don’t confuse myself as your son.”
Each time she was interrupted, despite a request from Justice Dev Dley to "remain quiet," Barb Gyoba held her hand up to block her nephew from her view.
Gyoba described her nephew as a happy kid who changed in high school, becoming "the boss of the school" and that a teacher let him teach a class.
Barb Gyoba said his aggressive personality took a toll on her, eventually leading to a nervous breakdown before she moved out of the house.
“It was nerve wracking because my husband protected me from him."
Ed Gyoba remained in the house with the accused and the pair spent a lot of time in a shop on the property, she testified.
“They would sit on either side of a wood stove in reclining chairs and Shane would talk and Eddy would listen — for hours, days."
Court heard that weeks before he was killed, Ed Gyoba became fed up with Shane Gyoba.
“Eddy came over and he had a hammer out and he said, ‘This is it, he’s got to get out,’” Barb Gyoba said.
“Shane said, ‘It’s my house. Why would I move out?’ But, Ed owned the house.”
Gyoba said she and her husband had agreed to meet for lunch on June 2, 2014 but that when she got to the house, she saw crime-scene tape.
“The sergeant came over, he saw me there, and he said, ‘We talked about this, didn’t we?’
“We did talk about it, a year ago, about Shane doing something,” she said.