Marshall hit by three bullets, Willier trial hears
A third bullet proved fatal in the Feb. 17, 2010 shooting death of Nathan Marshall, a B.C. Supreme court jury heard Friday.
Dr. James Stephen, an expert in the field of forensic pathology, said he performed an autopsy on Marshall's body on Feb. 18, 2010.
Stephen said he found three perforating – meaning they enter and exit the body – gun shot wounds. The bullets hit several organs including the left lung, heart, liver, spleen, stomach and colon, he noted. Cause of death was determined to be from massive blood loss due to multiple gun shot wounds.
Stephen testified, Friday, day five of the first degree murder trial of 22-year-old Anthony Robert Willier of Prince George. Willier is charged in the death of his one-time friend Marshall, 27, who was shot to death outside his Hemlock St. home.
On examining Marshall's body, Stephen said he found six separate wounds, three pairs of entrance and exit bullet holes. He also noted a number of tattoos. Some wounds had "abrasion rings" or bruising which occurs when the skin is rubbed raw by the passage of a bullet, he explained.
Asked by Crown counsel Oleh Kuzma, "if that (first bullet wound) were the only wound, could (Marshall) have survived?"
Stephen said that Marshall could have survived the first bullet wound – involving primarily the liver, calling it the "least dangerous" of the three.
However the third bullet, that entered Marshall's right chest, pierced the pericardium or sac surrounding the heart, went through the left ventricle, the left lung and the diaphragm and nicked the liver and spleen, was "so life threatening," said the pathologist, that "death would likely occur within seconds or minutes."
Kuzma asked Stephen if (prompt) medical attention could have changed the outcome for Marshall.
"The injuries to the heart would cause shock, the blood pressure would drop...and he would be conscious only a few seconds...I think death would occur within seconds or minutes. The only means of survivability I could see (given this scenario) is if he was shot at the front door of the operating room."
Further, Dr. Stephen said that in determining the classification of wounds, he found no close contact or intermediate wounds (from gun powder residue on the skin.)
"I concluded these wounds were distant."
Other than bruising to the right knee cap, no other injuries were found, he said.
"Is there any way to determine the sequence of gun shot wounds?" Kuzma asked.
"Not directly," said Stephen, explaining the features of the wounds suggest the body had changed position between the time the first two bullet wounds and the third were inflicted.
"Two of the gun shot wounds were with the body upright. One is substantially different,.. (Marshall) was likely on his hands or knees or on the ground."
Defence lawyer Keith Aartsen is counsel for the accused. B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mr. James Williams is presiding over the first degree murder trial at the Prince George court house. A three-woman, nine-man jury is hearing the case which began last Monday and is expected to last two weeks.
A second witness Friday said that in a 15-minute conversation during a car ride with the accused, Willier told him of his role in the Feb. 17, 2010 murder of Nathan Marshall. In direct examination by counsel for the Attorney General, Siobhan Greenfield the witness said that he knew Willier "not that long" when he gave him a ride and listened as Willier recounted the story of how he shot Marshall.
"He said when Nathan came out, he pulled out a gun and shot him once, then he pulled (the vehicle) up and shot him again," said the witness. Asked why it was Willier went to Marshall's house the day of the murder, the witness said,
"I'm pretty sure Nathan was under house arrest at the time."
The witness said he understood from Willier that the borrowed vehicle the accused drove that morning was an SUV, a Ford Explorer. Asked later on if he recalled what colour the SUV was, the witness said, "It was green."
"Did he tell you what kind of gun?" asked Greenfield.
"He said it was a .45 calibre," said the witness.
Asked how many times Willier allegedly shot Marshall, the witness replied, "He (Willier) said he emptied the clip."
"What was his tone of voice like?" asked Greenfield.
"He did seem kind of scared about what happened," said the witness. "He seemed like he felt bad about the whole situation." In his testimony, the witness also alluded to an incident a few years earlier where he said Willier claimed Marshall had tied him up in the basement.
Under cross-examination by defence lawyer Keith Aartsen, the witness admitted the first time he told the RCMP about his alleged conversation with Willier was in September 2010 when police searched a residence he was in and found two loaded 9 mm guns, a loaded .30-.30 rifle, two sawed-off shotguns and approximately one ounce of crack cocaine in small baggies.
"You within a day or so offer to tell police about what you say your conversation was, (right?)... you waited for six months until you yourself were under arrest, saving this as a bargaining chip, should you yourself be arrested?
"No, I wasn't saving it up for a bargaining chip," said the witness.
Aartsen also pointed to numerous newspaper articles about gang violence in Prince George found by police in the home.
"So you had knowledge about what happened to Nathan...You also knew about a fellow named Sanche (before talking to Willier)? asked Aartsen. The witness denied the name Sanche came up in his conversation with Willier.