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SCOTT TRIAL: Pathologist saw no signs of homicide on victim's body

Jillian McKinty was found dead the morning of Nov. 27, 2013 in her home in Armstrong by an upstairs neighbour after her two young children were heard yelling.
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June 27, 2017 - 1:46 PM

VERNON - There were no signs of trauma on Jillian McKinty's body two days after she was found dead in her home, the pathologist who performed her autopsy testified today in Vernon Supreme Court.

Dr. Michael Tyler was the first witness called by Crown counsel Shirley Meldrum in Salmon Arm man Logan Scott’s manslaughter trial. Scott is accused of killing McKinty, who was found dead the morning of Nov. 27, 2013 in the Armstrong residence where she lived with her twin sons. Scott, who was 31 years old at the time of his arrest in August 2014, also faces one count of theft under $5,000 for allegedly stealing McKinty’s phone and laptop. Court heard in earlier proceedings that McKinty and Scott met on dating website Plenty of Fish and had a casual sexual relationship. 

Dr. Tyler, a general pathologist, testified he would not normally handle cases like this one, because homicides are typically referred to forensic pathologists.

But there was nothing suspicious about McKinty’s death when her case landed on Tyler’s desk and he performed the autopsy on Nov. 29, 2013.

His examination found some congestion of the lungs, haemorrhaging around the eyes, an unusual connection of the ribs and sternum, and superficial haemorrhaging just below the esophagus. He suspected some of the skeletal and organ changes may be related to the fact that McKinty had a chromosome 7 Q defect.

Tyler determined the cause of death to be asphyxiation. He took no photos to document the autopsy.

The now retired pathologist said if anything suspicious or nefarious came up in the course of an autopsy, he would refer it to forensics. He testified he had no reason to do that in this case.

Under cross examination by defence counsel Glenn Verdurmen, the doctor said he found no evidence that another person caused McKinty’s death.

It wasn’t until a day or two after the autopsy, Tyler said, that he was called by the RCMP to visit the funeral home where McKinty’s body had been released to.

“For some reason the police had become interested in the case and they asked me to come to the funeral home, I think in Armstrong, to do a vaginal swab,” he said.

Tyler was also questioned Tuesday morning about a series of photographs of a woman — presumably McKinty — lying on a hospital gurney. Tyler was able to confirm McKinty's identity in some of the photos, but said he did not take the pictures himself and did not know who, or where, they were taken. The source of the photos, and their context in the trial, remain unclear. They were not entered as evidence as of 12:30 p.m. June 27. 

Defence counsel will continue cross examining Dr. Tyler Tuesday afternoon.


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