LETHBRIDGE — A medical examiner testified Thursday that one of three victims a southern Alberta man is accused of murdering was beaten with a blunt instrument and then stabbed in the neck as she was close to death.
Hanne Meketech, 69, was found lying in a pool of blood in her mobile home in September 2015.
Dr. Jefferey Gofton, who was then a medical examiner in Alberta, conducted her autopsy.
Derek Saretzky, 24, is on trial charged with first-degree murder in Meketech’s death, as well as in the deaths of Terry Blanchette, who was 27, and his two-year-old daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.
He has pleaded not guilty.
Testifying by a video link from Virginia, Gofton said Meketech had eight wounds to her head: five made by a blunt instrument and three others from a knife.
Gofton said two of the blows caused skull fractures — one of them serious enough to drive slivers of bone into her brain. He said although there were also deep stab wounds to her neck, it was the head injury that killed her.
“That is really the bottom line in my opinion. The actual cause of death is the blunt force trauma,” said Gofton.
Most of the blood at the scene was from the head injury and it appears the stab wounds occurred “seconds before her actual passing.”
“She would have been almost dead.”
The stab wounds appear to have been made by a knife with an unserrated blade, Gofton testified. He agreed the blunt force injuries could have been made by a crowbar, a pipe or a baseball bat.
Police investigators recovered a knife with an unserrated blade in a firepit containing Hailey’s remains.
RCMP Sgt. Ashley Davidson was called in to examine blood patterns after Meketech was found dead. Davidson testified that it appeared Meketech was struck one or more times about 40 centimetres from the floor.
He said her body was also covered with bloody paw prints from her dogs. One of her pets was lying across her dead body.
Davidson said there were 400 smaller blood spatter stains caused by “significant force” and blood droplets were sprayed against the wall as the weapon was raised. He said investigators used 3-D technology to determine the blood’s point of origin.
Court has already heard that Saretzky confessed to police that he killed Meketech, Blanchette and Hailey.
The Crown said on Wednesday that Saretzky had inside knowledge of the deaths and provided details to police that only the killer would know. The prosecution also said Saretzky took officers to a remote area where the girl’s remains were found in a campsite firepit, along with a hatchet and a metal pot.
Police seized a number of things from Saretzky’s apartment, including books on serial killers and how to practise cannibalism.
No motive has yet been suggested in any of the deaths.
Police have said Saretzky and Blanchette were acquaintances, but have not elaborated on how the two men knew each other. The little girl’s mother has described Saretzky as an old friend whom she hadn’t spoken to in years.
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Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press