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Lillooet man likely died from stab wound to his heart: Pathologist

April 05, 2017 - 4:41 PM

KAMLOOPS - Gary Mandseth suffered several stab wounds and other injuries Feb. 10, 2015, but the injury that likely caused his death was a stab wound to his heart.

Dr. James Stephen, a local pathologist, says stab wounds to the heart are "usually fatal unless it happens on the doorstep of an operating room." Stephen took the stand in Kamloops Supreme Court today, April 5, to give evidence in the second-degree murder trial for Jeffery Harris.

Harris is charged with stabbing Mandseth, his drug dealer, to death in February 2015 in Lillooet after an alleged altercation.

An eyewitness, and 61-year-old Mandseth's upstairs neighbour, gave testimony earlier this week detailing the injuries she saw on Mandseth after the altercation.

Jennifer Saelens told the court she saw Harris hitting Mandseth over the head with a pipe and stabbing him with a sharp object in Mandseth's basement suite. She testified that after the altercation ended, she could see Mandseth's brain and part of his lung.

Stephen said that during the autopsy he observed two stab wounds to the right lung and one stab wound to the left lung. He testified that Mandseth also suffered a linear fracture to his skull.

"Sometimes it (shatters) like a pane of glass," Stephen said, referring to the skull. "Sometimes it fractures like your windshield with a long line (across)."

In this case, Stephen said Mandseth's skull was fractured in a line, stemming from the crown of his head to his right temple, to over top of the right eye. He says Mandseth had eight lacerations on his skull, with one causing the linear fracture.

Although that injury was significant, Stephen says it was the stab wound to the right ventricle in Mandseth's heart that ultimately proved fatal.

"You've come to an opinion with respect to the cause of death?" Crown prosecutor Chris Balison asked.

"The most significant was the stab wound to his heart," Stephen said.

Defence lawyer Donna Turko questioned Stephen over whether or not he could determine based on Mandseth's injuries if this was a "surprise" attack. She pointed out the defensive wounds on Mandseth didn't appear to reflect someone who was vigorously fighting for their life.

Stephen said although there weren't a significant number of defensive wounds on Mandseth, injuries such as two broken fingers, two stab wounds to his hand and bruising on his forearm did indicate some form of struggle.

Balison is expecting to call the last of Crown's witnesses today, and says defence may not start its case until next week. The jury trial is scheduled for three weeks.

For more on this trial, go here.


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