Breckenridge Texan

Medical examiner details autopsy report in Blair murder trial
September 25
13:18 2017

Monday morning’s testimony in the Elton Carroll “E.C.” Blair trial began with details of the autopsy conducted on the body of Leah Martin, who was murdered in 2015 in Graham.

Dr. Susan Roe, a forensic pathologist, is the deputy medical examiner in Tarrant County who conducted the autopsy. She testified that there was no evidence to indicate that Martin died of natural causes, suicide or any other means than homicidal violence.

The advanced state of decomposition of the body limited Roe’s ability to confirm or rule out many possibilities about the way Martin died.

However, she repeatedly confirmed that she found no evidence of a gunshot to the body or on the clothing. She testified, though, that it is possible for someone to receive a debilitating blow to the head without having damage to the skull. Much of the soft tissue and internal organs, including the brain, were too decomposed to reveal if trauma or injury had taken place.

Roe testified that, although the plastic bag around Martin’s head and plastic wrapping around her neck indicate asphyxiation, she saw no signs of more forceful choking. “The airway was intact,” she said.

The autopsy also noted the presence of a 3-inch rock in Martin’s mouth. Roe confirmed defense attorney David Wimberley’s assertion that Martin’s mouth would have had to be open when the rock got into her mouth. She also testified that although there was some separation of the plastic bag and plastic wrap around Martin’s neck there was not a tear or cut in the plastic big enough for the rock to fit through. She could not determine how the rock came to be in Martin’s mouth.

When Wimberley asked her if it was “highly likely the rock was placed in her mouth by the person who killed her,” Roe answered, “It’s a strong possibility, but I can’t say for sure. ”

Other parts of the autopsy that were discussed include the fact that some of Martin’s bones were missing, including her right foot and some bones from her left hand. Roe said that to her knowledge the bones were never recovered. She said that although she couldn’t determine what happened to the foot and fingers, there was no indication on the body that they had been purposefully removed by anyone.

After a short break in the trial, District Attorney Dee Peavy called Graham Police Department Lt. Jeff Smith to the stand. The criminal investigator was the lead investigator in the case.

He testified about the night of May 30, 2015, when Martin was first reported missing and walked the jury through a surveillance video that captured E.C.’s Auto Repair shop the night she was killed. His testimony is expected to continue after lunch.

Story by Carla McKeown/Breckenridge Texan

 

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