Pathologist testifies at Saskatoon murder trial about how Richard Fernuk died of 'ligature strangulation'

The Crown's final witness in the Leo Daniels murder trial testified how Richard Fernuk died of 'ligature strangulation.'

Shaun Ladham says too many variables to assign time of death

Richard Fernuk at his daughter's wedding. Fernuk, 68, was found dead and tied to a chair in his apartment on Aug. 3. (Submitted by Fernuk family)

Richard Fernuk died of 'ligature strangulation' caused by an electrical cord wrapped around his neck, forensic pathologist Shaun Ladham testified Wednesday.

Ladham said there were too many variables to accurately determine a time of death for Fernuk.

Leo Roy Daniels is on trial at Court of Queen's Bench in Saskatoon charged with first-degree murder, unlawful confinement and robbery in the judge-alone trial.

Fernuk, 68, was found dead and tied to a chair in his apartment on Aug. 3, 2019.

Ladham went through a series of scene and autopsy photos in court. They showed how officers discovered Fernuk when they went to his apartment to check on his welfare.

Fernuk was wearing a green Saskatchewan Roughriders t-shirt and cut-off blue jeans, plus a white bracelet from an earlier visit to St. Paul's Hospital. His arms and legs were tied to a chair with a mix of cords. An electrical cord had been wrapped around his neck and secured to the back of the chair.

The chair had been knocked on its back with Fernuk still tied in position.

Ladham estimated that, given how tightly the cord was tied around his neck, he could have died of asphyxiation in minutes.

Ladham could not estimate a time of death because there were too many variables, ranging from how long between Fernuk's death and the discovery of the body to the effect of fluctuating temperatures.

Ladham was the Crown's final witness. Defence lawyer Blaine Beaven will indicate Thursday whether he plans to call any evidence.


Dan Zakreski is a reporter for CBC Saskatoon.