Simone Sanderson had defensive wounds on hands, pathologist testifies at murder trial

The pathologist who conducted her autopsy says the 23-year-old had defensive wounds on both of her hands.

Kyllan Ellis is charged with 2nd-degree murder in Winnipeg woman's 2012 death

Simone Sanderson was killed in Winnipeg in 2012, at age 23. The trial for the man accused of killing her began on Monday. (Family photo)

Simone Sanderson had defensive wounds on both of her hands when the 23-year-old woman died, the pathologist who conducted her autopsy told a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday.

Testifying at Kyllan Ellis's second-degree murder trial, Dr. Charles Littman said Sanderson had cuts on both of her palms.

"In my opinion that could be explained by trying to grab a knife cutting edge," he told the court.

On Monday, the first day of Ellis's trial,court heard that a filleting knife and a knife sheath were found near Sanderson's body when it was discovered in an empty lot at the corner of Winnipeg's Main Street and Burrows Avenue in 2012.

Police charged Ellis with second-degree murder in April 2016 and a sample of his DNA was taken. He has pleaded not guilty.

Kyllan Ellis is charged with second-degree murder in the death of Simone Sanderson. (CBC)

A DNA expert testified Tuesday morning that Ellis's DNA was not a match with any of the evidence collected where Sanderson's body was found, including the knife. 

Michelle LeBlanc, a scientist in the RCMP forensic laboratory, said only Sanderson's DNA was found on the bloody knife and sheath.

She also examined evidence taken from Ellis's car and testified that there was no match with Sanderson's DNA.

'Significant force'

Littman told the jury of five women and seven men at Winnipeg's Court of Queen's Bench that Sanderson died of blunt and sharp force trauma.

He said she had four fractures to her head and neck area, including two fractures to her jawbone.

"The jawbone is the strongest bone in the head, stronger than the skull," he testified. "It takes a significant amount of force to damage the jaw."

Littman said it is his opinion that all four fractures were caused within a short amount of time.

Ellis's lawyer, Mike Cook, asked the pathologist if an injury classified as blunt force trauma could be caused by a fall. Littman said that is possible.

Sanderson's body was in advanced stages of decay when it was discovered and Littman could not say exactly what type of force caused the fatal injuries.

He said the only way to determine how long the body had been in the lot would be to examine the bugs found on Sanderson.

A Winnipeg police forensic investigator told the jury on Monday that maggots and other bugs were collected from Sanderson's body and from below the body, as well as from the area nearby.

The Crown will call an entomologist to testify later in Ellis's trial.

Several police officers are also scheduled to testify.

Court previously heard surveillance video collected from five cameras at two Main Street buildings will be introduced as evidence.

The trial continues Wednesday.

Simone Sanderson had defensive wounds on both of her hands when the 23-year-old woman died, the pathologist who conducted her autopsy told a Winnipeg courtroom Tuesday. 1:23

About the Author

Jillian Taylor

CBC Reporter

Jillian Taylor has been with CBC Manitoba since 2012 and has been reporting for a decade. She was born and raised in Manitoba and is a member of the Fisher River Cree Nation. In 2014, she was awarded the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association's travel bursary, which took her to Australia to work with Indigenous journalists. Find her on Twitter: @JillianLTaylor