Lawyers in Khill trial spar over blood spatter evidence
Firearms expert testifies both shots fired from less than 12 feet away
Eighty-nine tiny specks of blood dotting the back door of Peter Khill's truck and splattered across the side of the passenger seat tell two different stories about where Jon Styres was standing when he was shot, according to lawyers on both sides of the trial.
A blood spatter expert testified Thursday that those spots — 15 outside and another 74 inside the truck — show the 29-year-old a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River was within five feet and facing into the truck when he was shot twice by the white Hamilton homeowner.
But defence lawyer Jeff Manishen argued it's possible Styres was facing away from the truck when he was hit.
The direction Styres was facing and what he was doing when he was shot matter because Khill told police in the 911 call played in Hamilton Superior Court that Styres had his arms up pointing toward him, causing him to fear for his life and fire the fatal shots.
Khill is charged with second-degree murder. He has pleaded not guilty.
Blood travels in a cone-shape, explained blood stain pattern expert and retired Niagara Police detective Colin Hoare, who pointed to one speck in particular, number 18 that landed inside the door, as evidence "that places the blood source within the open doorway."
He added it was his opinion the blood spatter showed the deceased was "fully or partially turned toward the inside of the vehicle."
Manishen suggested another possibility — Hoare didn't do his homework and might have missed information that show the shooting could have happened differently.
The lawyer pulled out portions of a blood spatter textbook, which suggested anyone analyzing blood patterns should be present for the autopsy or at least look at photos of the injuries, something Hoare admitted he didn't do.
The former detective cited concerns about "cognitive bias" meaning he didn't want to be biased by information other than the blood itself, as one reason he didn't look at any pictures.
Styres was shot twice
Court previously heard that Styres was shot twice on the night of Feb. 4, 2016 — once in the chest and a second time in the back of his right shoulder.
Hoare testified Hamilton police detectives told him there were no exit wounds, so he determined that the pattern of the blood indicates it was caused by "back spatter," after flying out of an entrance wound.
Manishen pointed out the entry wound to the shoulder is actually accompanied by another entry/exit wound around the armpit area where the shotgun pellets appear to have left Styre's arm before continuing back into his body and eventually ending up in his torso.
The blood expert said he wasn't aware of any exit wounds when he completed his report.
Manishen then asked Hoare if it's possible it was actually just Styres' chest and arm that were facing the truck, instead of his entire body. The lawyer also asked if the spatter on the door and the seat could have come from two different shots.
Hoare said it was impossible for him to tell.
One thing the blood pattern expert was sure of, the shots hit Styres with "great impact."
"The more force you apply to the blood source the smaller the blood droplets," he explained. "These are very small stains."
Court was told Styres was wearing five layers of clothing on the night he was shot — something Hoare said could limit how far the blood would fly.
He also said the pattern suggests that where police found Styres body was not where the source of the blood would have been.
Photo shows Khill after shooting
The jury was also shown a picture of Khill taken on the night of the shooting, wearing a black T-shirt and plaid boxer shorts.
Close up pictures of his hands taken by Hamilton police show slight smears of blood on the back of his right hand.
Court also heard from Judy Chin, a firearms expert from the Centre of Forensic Sciences who used the same 12 gauge Remington shotgun from shooting to complete a battery of tests to find out how far away Khill was when he fired.
She pointed out the chest and shoulder wounds were both about five centimetres in diameter and that the chest wound showed some "skidding" on the skin, meaning the shot that caused it probably came from an angle.
Evidence shows shooting happened at close range
Chin concluded the muzzle of the gun was more than a foot and less than 12 feet from Styres' shoulder when he was hit and less than 12 feet away from his chest.
She added the shotgun was equipped with a Remington Turkey Super Choke, which made the grouping of pellets even tighter as it travelled.
The Crown previously told court the shotgun pellets and wads from the shells were recovered from inside Styres' body, something Chin said indicates the shooting happened from close range.
The trial continues Friday.