The medical examiner who performed the autopsy on Felicia Lee testified Friday morning that abrasions and scratches on her body indicate that she was involved in a struggle.
Pointing out wounds on photos of Lee's body displayed in court on a projector screen, Deputy Medical Examiner Ajay Panchal of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner said on the witness stand that injuries to Lee's arm, back, shoulder, legs and feet were consistent with those he'd expect to find on the victim of a struggle.
"It's consistent with scratches caused by (Lee) in the course of some kind of struggle or some kind of confrontation," Panchal said.
Panchal said scratches found on Brian Lee Randone, , also indicated that he was "being grabbed in the process of a struggle," Panchal said.
Prosecutor Philip Wojdak said during his opening statement in the trial Thursday that medical examiners counted 320 separate wounds on Lee's body, the basis for the torture charge against Randone.
A defense attorney for Randone that Lee, 31, died of an overdose of the drug GHB on the morning of Sept. 11, 2009. Attorney Ed Rucker argued that the injuries Lee suffered were caused in the process of an overdose, when he claims she fell into a closet and possibly down some stairs.
But Panchal testified Friday that the injuries Lee sustained were not indicative of a GHB overdose or a seizure caused by GHB abuse, though he noted toxicology tests conducted on her body showed she had "a fairly high level" of GHB in her blood when she died.
"If you just have a GHB overdose, you don't have all these injuries," Panchal said. "You don't struggle with GHB, which is of course why it's the date rape drug."
Mark Overland, one of Randone's two attorneys, asked Panchal to compare various photographs of Lee's body and suggested that the many wounds on her body could have been caused by a fall into a closet where blood was found.
"What if a person is flailing as a result of GHB intoxication?," Overland asked.
Such a scenario might produce some scrapes on certain parts of Lee's body, but a GHB overdose or drug-induced seizure would not explain "all this bruising all over the place," Panchal said. He said sustaining such extensive injuries from a fall into a closet was "quite unlikely" and were instead "clearly inflicted by somebody else."
At that point, Overland pointed out that Panchal was not an expert in the effects of GHB.
"And you're saying that, doctor, even though you're not an expert on GHB, is that correct?," Overland asked. "That is correct," Panchal responded.
Overland also noted that this was the first autopsy Panchal had ever performed on a person with such high levels of GHB intoxication.
Attorneys for Randone also zeroed in on patterns of scratches on Lee's body that were parallel to one another and sought to have him explain how such injuries could have occurred. Panchal said he could not determine what instrument might have caused the marks.
Testimony will continue in the trial on Monday morning. Keep checking Patch for the latest coverage.