Doctor testifies bullet severed Gillis’ spinal cord

The gunshot that struck a woman in a Washington County driveway last April severed her spinal cord, a medical examiner testified on Wednesday.

Kevin Monahan, 66, is on trial for second-degree murder for allegedly causing the death of Kaylin Gillis. She was a passenger in an SUV that had mistakenly turned up Monahan’s Hebron driveway.

Dr. Michael Sikirica conducted the autopsy of Gillis. He was aware she had suffered a shotgun wound to the neck area. 

The jury was shown two photographs from the autopsy. They were not projected on the screen as other visuals have been.

Sikirica determined that the projectile went through the upper left portion of her neck and out the right side.

Sikirica said he saw evidence that the projectile was starting to break up.

“There was a trace of metallic debris along the wound track extending from the left to right,” he said. 

The projectile fractured the third, fourth and fifth vertebrae and cut the spinal cord, according to Sikirica

“That is a lethal injury. Your diaphragm is driven by the nerves in the spinal cord. You would die immediately,” he said. “Your spinal cord would be so damaged that you would not be able to breathe.” 

There were also toxicology tests done of Gillis, but Sikirica said there was no other cause of death.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Arthur Frost asked if he performed those toxicology tests. They were sent to an outside lab, Sikirica said.

Use of term ‘homicide’

Before Sikirica was brought in to testify, Frost had raised a concern outside the presence of the jury with the manner of death being listed as “homicide” on the autopsy report. 

“I understand that’s a typical thing a pathologist, forensic examiner would characterize in his or her work, but for a jury that would be inappropriate,” he said.  

“The defense’s contention is this is an accidental death – not a homicidal death,” he said. 

First Assistant District Attorney Christian Morris said an accident doesn’t mean what Frost contends in this sense.

“He is legally required to put the manner of death as a homicide, but is not rendering an opinion.”

The prosecution and defense mutually agreed to redact the section of the report that lists cause of death.

Testimony was set to resume just before 2 p.m.

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