Kamloops News

TAYLOR TRIAL: If teen was rushed to hospital after injuries, death could have been prevented, doctor says

16-year-old CJ Fowler's body was found near a ravine in Sahali on Dec. 5, 2012. Damien Taylor is charged with second degree murder.
Image Credit: contributed

KAMLOOPS — The injuries to a teen’s head, neck and chest were severe enough to cause her death, but the 16-year-old girl could have been saved if she had received immediate medical attention, a jury has heard.

Dr. Gilles Molgat, the pathologist who performed the autopsy of CJ Fowler, testified in Kamloops Supreme Court today, Oct. 1 — the fourth day of her boyfriend Damien Taylor’s second-degree murder trial.

Molgat received the body at the Kamloops morgue after it was discovered near a ravine in the Sahali neighbourhood Dec. 5, 2012. He noted all injuries, both large and small and concluded the teen died from asphyxia caused after her airway was blocked.

Larger injuries Fowler sustained were lacerations to her head and cheek, two black eyes, a broken jaw and a brain injury which Molgat said were all caused by blunt force trauma. He said it was likely the large piece of concrete found on top of the teen was dropped on her head at some point. The scrapes on her neck and chest could have been caused if the piece of concrete rolled on to her, Molgat said.

It wasn’t likely a single blow that killed Fowler but rather more than one, Molgat said. He observed the laceration on the teen’s left cheek and noted that it appeared to be caused by a different instrument — one that was ‘long and blunt’ he said.

“Most likely it was two events, possibly three,” he said.

Fowler’s broken jaw caused her teeth to loosen, pushed her tongue against her airway and a damaged larynx caused her to suffocate, Molgat said. A tooth was found a distance from the body, but Molgat said he could only theorize as to how it arrived there.

Upon hearing of the teen’s injuries, member’s of Fowler’s family sitting in the courtroom’s gallery began to cry.

"If she had gone to the hospital as soon as possible for treatment of those injuries, including her brain injury, I think it’s within the realm of possibility she could have survived,” Molgat said.

Crown prosecutor Alex Janse asked specifically about the position of Fowler’s body when it was discovered.

“I and others found it in an odd position,” Molgat said. “She was reclined and her legs were crossed. It’s most likely she was sitting in a cross-legged position and either laid backwards or fell backwards."

Taylor’s lawyer, Don Campbell, asked about a toxicology report which showed the teen had methamphetamine and THC in her system at the time of her death.

Molgat said he could not determine at what point the teen was exposed to marijuana. He said the drug use did not contribute to her death. 

He did not give the Crown an approximate time of death but said she was likely unconscious when she died.

The 11-person jury previously heard from Crown’s case about Taylor and Fowler taking a trip to Kamloops together from Terrace. In the hours before her death, Fowler went to the hospital, allegedly complaining of chest pains attributed to drug use. She and Taylor broke up at the hospital shortly after the couple discovered a pregnancy, Fowler’s step-father said.

Taylor left Kamloops alone and returned to Prince George where police collected socks of his stained with blood. After his arrest, police collected his backpack which contained a socket wrench. DNA analysis showed Fowler’s blood on both the socks and the wrench.

The trial is set to continue this afternoon.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at gbrothen@infonews.ca, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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