Medical examiner testifies on details of Kirwan's death

Staff ~ The News
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PICTOU - Chief Medical Examiner Matthew Bowes said he believes Amber Kirwan bled to death from a collection of multiple wounds on her back and neck.

Sgt. Darlene MacEachern, right, is a long time member for the identification team for the RCMP

Bowes testified in the Christopher Falconer first-degree murder trial Monday morning and stated that an autopsy showed the 19-year-old victim died from blood loss as a result of multiple stab wounds around the neck and back. 

He said a stab wound on the chest that reached the heart was done either as she was dying or dead. 

"The cause of death is multiple stab wounds," confirmed Crown attorney Bill Gorman during his questioning of the witness. "The mechanism of death is bleeding death."

Bowes agreed and added that the stab wounds on her back and neck didn't strike any part of her brain or spine, but a jugular vein was hit. 

He added that there were defensive wound injuries to her left hand, some of which cut a finger into two pieces and others that went right through her hand. 

He could not confirm the type of weapon used in the offence but his best guess was a single edge weapon. 

Bowes said Kirwan's wrists were bound together with an orange towel tied in several knots and a black and blue piece of fabric that had duct tape on it.

Kirwan's body was decomposing at the time of discovery, which made it difficult to get conclusive answers on some of the tests. For example, he said, alcohol in her body had a high reading but when a body decomposes, it can make alcohol.

He said codeine was found in her system with acetaminophine, which is commonly found in Tylenol 3 drugs. He estimated Kirwan had as much as 10 times the normal amount of codeine in her system, which would make her sedated.

However, he said, he is sure she did not die of a drug overdose. 

Under cross examination by Mike Taylor, Bowes said he couldn't tell when the stab wounds were inflicted nor could he say how long it took the victim to bleed to death. He also added that there would have been a significant amount of blood in the area where she bled to death. 

Testimony will continue Monday afternoon.

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