Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Capital Murder Trial for Luis Aguirre: Day Three; Forensic Pathologist Dr. Erik Mitchell's Testimony

Photo Credit HERE
Dr. Erik Mitchell, who performed the autopsies on the bodies of Tanya and Juan Maldonado, testified regarding the cause of death of the two victims. He has practiced medicine and served as a forensic pathologist in North Carolina, Florida, New York, and Kansas. His focus is on disease/injury/pathology involved in death; he also served on a Child Death Review Board which reviewed ALL deaths of children in Kansas; part of this was to determine paths of prevention.
He described one element of his job as collecting as much information as possible, in order to have context and greater perspective in determining the causes of death. The Riley County coroner asked for his assistance. He has performed over 11,000 autopsies.
Dr. Mitchell's testimony
contradicted the various stories told by the defendant as to causes of death. Using photos to buttress his testimony, he suggested that there was serious blunt force trauma to both mother and child; this trauma was to the left side of the chest and was much greater on the body of Tanya than of Juan. Dr. Mitchell suggested that this was due to the greater force needed to subdue an adult compared to the force needed to subdue a 13 month-old child.
He discussed how blood moves when tissue is living; how trauma appears when it occurs pre- or post- mortem.
During the testimony, autopsy pictures were briefly shown that reflected the bruising that went clear to the bone of the chest. The picture that was most moving for me was one that showed a hair tie, still around Tanya's ponytail. Although I know the spirit and soul of Tanya was no longer connected to the remains, nonetheless the hairtie is such a small, human thing. The act of pulling one's hair into a tie is so common that seeing that photo for 2 seconds brought a flood of feeling for our humble humanity.

Photo of Dr. Erik Mitchell: HERE

Dr. Mitchell tesitfied that in his opinion, the deaths were not accidental. He also stated that the possibility of two healthy people dying accidentally within minutes of each other was infinitesimally small.

Read more details of Erik Mitchell's testimony: story by Lindsey Rogers at Channel 13 WIBW-- excerpt:
"...Mitchell says he could not tell exactly how the victims died because of the lapse in time before they died and when their bodies were found. Animals had also disturbed their remains. Mitchell told the jury he found evidence of blunt force trauma on Tanya’s chest consistent with injuries he’s seen in major falls and in people who have been hit by a car. He also found hemorrhaging on Juan’s chest that was similar to his mother’s injuries but not as severe. He said he did not find any injuries consistent with CPR being performed..."

Murder Trial: Day One opening statements HERE
Day two: click HERE
Dr. Spencer Tomb's testimony: HERE

Closing statements click HERE


  1. Sylvia Ortiz - Tanyas AuntJune 27, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Thank God he was Caught, Tried, and Convicted. Tanya's death didn't do unnoticed by the Grace of God. He shined his light on her the day the hunter discovered her's and Juan's remains. Just goes to show that God's Power is Almighty & Indestructible.

    R.I.P. Tanya & Juan. We Love You both & Miss you So Much.......

    1. where are there bodies now?...we both went to the same school castellanos i was and am so angry and sad to hear what happen to her...she and nobody deserves this i would had like to met her baby..=( but im happy that piece of shyt mother fuker is doing life never getting out!!