Joel Clow murder trial hears from RCMP drug expert, forensic pathologist
WARNING The details in this story may be disturbing to some
- Joel Clow later pleaded guilty to manslaughter after a previous murder conviction was overturned.
Joel Clow's blood showed alcohol, methamphetamine and a byproduct of recent cocaine use, an RCMP drug expert testified Thursday, but he still would have been mentally aware of what he was doing the night Traci Lynch died.
Clow is on trial for first degree murder in the death of Lynch on July 24, 2015, in Pleasant Grove, P.E.I.
- Traci Lynch was afraid Joel Clow would hurt her, witnesses tell court
- Joel Clow murder trial examines his behaviour after his arrest
Lori Campbell, a toxicologist at the RCMP National Forensic Services Laboratory in Ottawa, testified as a crown witness by video link Thursday in P.E.I. Supreme Court.
Lynch is estimated to have died between midnight and 2:30 a.m. that Friday. Campbell conducted drug and alcohol tests on a sample of Clow's blood collected at 10 p.m. that night at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.
Cocaine, speed and alcohol
Clow's blood-alcohol level was 0.073 per cent at the time the blood sample was taken, within the legal limits to drive, noted Crown prosecutor Cindy Wedge.
However on cross-examination, Campbell agreed with defence lawyer Joel Pink that Clow's blood alcohol level at 2:30 a.m. that day could have been 267 to 461 mg/ml — that's 0.267 to 0.461 per cent.
Pink pointed out that is four times the legal limit to drive and "highly intoxicated."
The test on Clow's blood showed methamphetamine, also known as speed, measured 157 nanograms per ml. Campbell described that as typical of a "moderate dose taken recently, or a much larger dose taken some time ago."
Various THC metabolites in his blood were found in levels "consistent with moderately frequent, recent use," Campbell testified.
The cocaine in Clow's blood did not contribute to impairment, but suggested use 12 to 20 hours earlier.
Campbell testified a person with these drugs in their blood would still possess "mental awareness."
'Degree of planning'
Wedge asked about Clow's mental state, based on his alleged actions the night of Lynch's death.
"If someone can follow directions from police and ask questions to paramedics, do they possess mental awareness?" asked Wedge.
"Yes," answered Campbell.
"If someone has the ability to conceal a body, do they exhibit mental awareness?" asked Wedge.
"Yes," said Campbell, "Hiding it shows an understanding of consequences and a degree of planning to conceal evidence."
"If someone has the ability to text, place calls and check voice mail?" asked Wedge.
"Yes, but accuracy of the transmission would indicate a lot. Do they make sense?" said Campbell.
Cause of death revealed
A forensic pathologist, Dr. Erik Mont, testified Thursday, saying Lynch died from a head injury and strangulation.
Mont conducted the autopsy the day after Lynch's death, and testified she had a blunt-force injury to the back of her head, made by a long, narrow object and that she was not strangled with human hands, but with an object.
The autopsy also showed two fractured ribs and many scrapes and bruises on Lynch, from head to toe.
Mont agreed with a suggestion from the Crown that the scrapes and bruises could have been caused by the woman's body being dragged across the road.