By ANDY GARDNER CANTON -- The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Garrett Phillips took the witness stand this morning and talked about injuries he noted on the boy's cadaver, but much of …
By ANDY GARDNER
CANTON -- The medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Garrett Phillips took the witness stand this morning and talked about injuries he noted on the boy's cadaver, but much of his testimony centered on judging the age of an injury on Oral "Nick" Hillary's ankle two days after the killing.
Hillary is accused of killing Phillips on Oct. 24, 2011 in Potsdam and now faces a second-degree murder charge in St. Lawrence County Court.
Dr. Michael Sikirica, the Rensselaer County medical examiner who routinely performs autopsies statewide, was shown pictures of Hillary's ankles taken Oct. 26, 2011 at the Potsdam Police Department.
The first of two photos was a frontal view of both of Hillary's ankles.
“The right ankle looks a bit swollen and large compared to the left," Sikirica said after seeing the image.
Prosecutor William Fitzpatrick then showed a photo taken the same day as the previous one showing an small abrasion on Hillary's right ankle. When asked how old he believes the injury was, Sikirca said “I can only provide a range … one to two days."
The prosecution contends whoever killed Phillips jumped out of a second-story window from the 100 Market St. murder scene after police were called there.
Under cross-examination, Sikirca testified that if Hillary was the killer and he injured the ankle jumping from the window, it would have left trace evidence.
“It would come off almost like a stain or a smear. It doesn’t simply come off like you’re taking it out with a punch press," Sikirica said.
A state police forensic investigator testified Monday and said there were no blood, tissue or DNA samples found outside the building, except for one of his mother's hairs and a second hair that had no root and wasn't able to be matched to anyone.
Sikirica added that landing on grass probably wouldn't cause such a wound as Hillary's. The investigator on Monday said they noted a divot in the grass below the window where the perpetrator probably landed.
Part of Sikirica's testimony involved the prosecution showing photos of Phillips's dead body. His family, who were in court, either looked straight ahead in a direction away from a large screen in the courtroom or down at the ground. Hillary, who is seated facing away from the press portion of the gallery, appeared to be looking along with his attorneys at the photos on a monitor at the defense table.
Sikirica described some of the wounds on Phillips's face, head and neck and said they were "consistent with fingernails," which could be either the killer's from covering his mouth or Phillips's own from the struggle.
“Can you give your judgement as to the amount of time it would take to kill a 12-year-old boy with asphyxia and suffocation," Fitzpatrick asked, which defense attorney Earl Ward objected and was overruled by the judge.
“Ninety seconds to 3 or 4 minutes. The subject would be conscious for about the first 15 seconds," Sikirica said.
Following his testimony, the prosecution played the second portion of Hillary's taped Jan. 20, 2014 deposition in federal court as part of his lawsuit against the Potsdam Police Department.
The subject of the ankle injury came up again. The lawyer for the lawsuit's defendants asked again how he hurt the extremity. He answered "I was moving furniture around," but when asked which pieces of furniture and how exactly the injury happened, he replied "I cannot recall." He also said he could not recall if he told anyone about the injury.
He said although he was questioned at length by Potsdam Police on Oct. 26, he didn't learn Phillips's death was a homicide until after the interview "when it was mentioned in the paper."
He also said after hearing of Phillips's death, he made no effort to try and find out how or why the boy died. Hillary dated Phillips's mother, Tandy Cyrus Collins, for about a year from 2010 to 2011. She testified she ended their relationship in the summer of 2010.
“You didn’t inquire at all as to how he may have died?” the lawyer asks on the tape.
“No,” Hillary answers.
"Why not?” the attorney asks.
“I just didn’t,” Hillary replies.
The lawyer also asks Hillary if he discussed with his daughter Phillips's death the day after he died, to which he replies "I cannot recall." He also says he could not recall if she asked him about the death.