Forensic opinion given today in the jury trial for Keith Gregory Wiens suggests the victim Lynn Kalmring could not have held onto a knife after being fatally shot. At the crime scene however, police found Kalmring, with a knife in her left hand.
The first doctor to observe Kalmring's body testified today in Kelowna Supreme Court, resuming the trial after three weeks of adjournment. Wiens is charged with second degree murder in the August 16, 2011 shooting death of Kalmring, his common-law partner.
Forensic pathologist William Richard Currie arrived at the Wiens' Penticton residence ten hours after police discovered the victim lying in a pool of blood in the bedroom of the home she shared with Wiens.
“The body would collapse immediately,” Currie said today, describing the effect of gunshot trauma to the victim's head. The shock effect and injuries to parts of the brain which control upright stance would have caused the victim to lose consciousness and control of her limbs.
“If she were holding something in her hand she would drop it,” Currie said.
While Currie did not perform the autopsy which happened three days following the death, his visual observations from the crime scene lead him to believe the knife was not in Kalmring's hand when she died.
Patterns of settled blood—livor mortis—appear on the palm of the victim's left hand, which would mean Kalmring died with her palm downwards – not upwards as police found her. Currie says after death blood will pool in the capillaries, following gravity. Though in this case, most blood was lost at the gunshot wound.
While there were some blueish markings of blood on the back of her hand, Currie says “it is very weak.”
He said this was consistent with the discoloration on her right hand, found palm down at the crime scene.
If she had died in the position found, holding a knife with her palm facing upwards, there would have been significant discoloration on the back side of her hand and none on the palm if it was always facing up.
"If she were holding the knife, then the lividity pattern is entirely wrong," Currie said.
He also observed white “blanching” below the base of her fingers, from where the knife was found. The knife, he argues, was placed in the hand when the blood was still fluid, leaving behind white-colored markings.
Currie did not submit a written report disclosing this theory, but while on scene he says he told one of the police investigators it looked as though "it had been staged."
During cross-examination defence lawyer Chris Evans asked Currie why he himself had not conducted the autopsy. Currie explained how he was formerly acquainted with Wiens and the coroner's service decided to ascend the autopsy to Kamloops instead. Wien's former wife worked for Currie at a hospital 20 years ago and when she passed away Wiens met with Currie to inquire about his wife's benefits package.
Evans suggested Currie may have been influenced by this "unhappy" meeting with Wiens, who was disappointed to find there was no benefits package to be passed on to him. However Currie protested, arguing the event had no bearing on his ability to give an objective opinion at the crime scene.
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