Pathologist says Somvilai ‘most likely’ died by suicide
LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Last week, the prosecution called Pathologist Ross Reichard to the stand. According to his expert opinion, Erin Somvilai’s death was caused by homicidal violence.
“This is not natural, not accident, not self inflected,” he said.
But today the defense called their own expert for a second opinion.
“Suicide to me is the most likely.”
Pathologist Lindsey Thomas came to that conclusion, after seeing little to no damage to Somvilai’s neck muscles, Thomas couldn’t find a direct cause of death.
“Does that indicate to you that that is a case that is inconsistent with strangulation?” asked Defense Attorney Christopher Zachar.
“Yes,” responded Thomas.
When Reichard testified, he could not prove a cause of death. But ruled out suicide considering how Somvilai’s body was found.
“You have someone who is deceased with ropes and chain and concrete blocks tied to them at the bottom of a lake, a number of miles from the residence with no apparent means of getting to that location,” explained Reichard.
The prosecution echoed that statement, questioning how Somvilai got to the lake with 66 pounds of cement blocks with no evidence that she traveled by car or walked.
“She would have had to carry them with her hands, 66 pounds, not leaving any marks on her forearms,” posed Assistant District Attorney Susan Donskey.
“Actually she did have a bruise on her forearm and when I carry blocks like this I don’t carry them with my hand I carry them with my forearm,” explained Thomas.
“Rough blocks, would that create an abrasion?” questioned Donskey.
“Well it could, but she had them on her forearm.”
But Thomas points to Somvilai’s dark past as why suicide is the most likely means of death.
“She had a past medical history of significant depression, she had other psychiatric disorders, she had attention deficit disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Thomas.
“Could this same evidence be used to make a determination of suicide by drowning?” asked Zachar.
“Yes,” said Thomas.
The prosecution will have 4 to 6 rebuttal witnesses tomorrow.
After the witnesses take the stand, both sides will give their closing arguments, and the jury will Begin deliberations.
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