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Forensic expert testifies 'sleeper hold' caused Bradley Winsor's death

The chokehold Daniel Hodgson applied to Bradley Winsor in May of 2017 can cause a person to lose consciousness in 10 seconds, and die within 30, Dr. Christopher Milroy told the court Friday. 

'Sleeper hold' can cause someone to lose consciousness in 10 seconds, die in 30, expert says

The chokehold Daniel Hodgson applied to Bradley Winsor in May of 2017 can cause a person to lose consciousness in 10 seconds, and die within 30, Dr. Christopher Milroy told the court Friday.  (David Gunn/CBC)

The chokehold Daniel Hodgson applied to Bradley Winsor in May of 2017 can cause a person to lose consciousness in 10 seconds, and die within 30 seconds, Dr. Christopher Milroy told the court Friday. 

Hodgson, 41, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in the death of Winsor at a house party in Apex, a satellite community of Iqaluit, four years ago. His trial began in the Nunavut Court of Justice in Iqaluit this week. 

Milroy is a forensic pathologist. He said he found no evidence of external injuries, but did find bruising consistent with death by compression to the neck, typical of an injury caused by an armlock. 

Milroy equated the armlock in this case to the "sleeper hold," a move once widely used by law enforcement because of how quickly it allows police to subdue someone and put them in handcuffs. 

Use of the sleeper hold by law enforcement was broadly outlawed in the 1990s because of the risks of death. 

"It is an inherently dangerous act," Milroy said. 

He explained that the move blocks arteries and veins, depriving the brain of vital nutrients and oxygen. "Unconsciousness can actually be quite rapid," he said. 

The move often constricts the veins, which carry blood out of the head, before affecting the arterial veins, which carry fresh blood in. That can cause hemorrhaging in the eye area, and can make a person turn bright red, as one witness says happened in this case. 

Toxicology reports showed that Winsor, who was 23 at the time, had consumed over twice the legal limit of alcohol allowed for driving in Canada. 

Daniel Hodgson, 41, arrives at the Nunavut Court of Justice on Tuesday, April 20. (David Gunn/CBC)

He'd also been taking cocaine. 

"It would appear that he was a regular user," Milroy said, adding that, in his opinion, death would have occurred whether cocaine or alcohol was present or not. 

An expert toxicologist also testified Friday. She confirmed that Winsor had been using cocaine. And while she said the science is inexact, she described the amount of cocaine detected in Winsor's blood as "on the lower end of the spectrum," adding that "much higher concentrations can be withstood."

Crown prosecutor Greg Lyndon said he planned to call two more witnesses when court resumes Monday. 

It's still not clear whether Hodgson will testify in his own defence. 

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