Hilary Bonnell's body was in 'clay cocoon,' jury hears

Hilary Bonnell's body was encased in a "clay cocoon" in the fetal position and her autopsy took two days, the jury at Curtis Bonnell's murder trial heard on Thursday.

Cut near eyebrow, no panties

Hilary Bonnell's body was encased in a "clay cocoon" in the fetal position, the jury at Curtis Bonnell's murder trial heard on Thursday.

Forensic specialist RCMP Cpl. Patrick Gould testified about the painstaking task of exhuming the 16-year-old's body from a shallow grave near Tabusintac and the subsequent autopsy, which took two days.

Curtis Bonnell, 32, of the Esgenoopetitj First Nation, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Hilary, his first cousin.

Hilary Bonnell disappeared from her northern New Brunswick community in September 2009. (RCMP)

The Crown alleges Bonnell picked up Hilary on Sept. 5, 2009, as she was walking along Micmac Road in the province's northeastern community after a party.

He is accused of holding the teen against her will, sexually assaulting her and killing her.

Police found blood at Bonnell's house, Gould told the Miramichi courtroom. He also collected a blood sample from Bonnell's truck, he said.

The jury was shown pictures of Hilary's body, which was located and exhumed about two months after she went missing.

She had a cut near her eyebrow, below a piercing. She was clothed, wearing a black hoodie, flowered blouse, blue bra and a jean shirt, but she did not have on any panties or shoes.

The jury at Curtis Bonnell's murder trial was shown pictures of Hilary Bonnell's body on Thursday. (CBC)

Gould testified about how crews spent days using trowels and their hands to dig up the body.

The body was left encased in a "clay cocoon," placed in a special box and then transported to the Saint John Regional Hospital for an autopsy, he said.

During the Nov. 14 autopsy, officials tried several methods to remove the clay in order to preserve the girl's skin, Gould said.

They considered freezing the body. They also contemplated using X-rays and even transported her body to border patrol services, he said.

But they finally decided to use their hands to remove the clay and videotaped the process due to its unusual nature, Gould said.

The autopsy took about two days, he said.

The trial, which started on Sept. 17, is expected to last up to eight weeks.