Doctor testifies at murder trial

JIMMY ELLINGHAM
Last updated 12:00 15/09/2012

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The doctor who examined a woman killed by a shot to the head found no other signs of physical abuse.

Forensic pathologist Dr John Rutherford examined the body of 23-year-old Stacey Lake, of Otaki Beach, on May 9 last year.

She died in the early hours of that morning after being shot the day before.

Ms Lake's partner, Tuaine Llewellyn Bevan, 28, is accused of murdering her and is on trial in the High Court at Palmerston North.

The Crown says he shot her at close range because of a domestic dispute; the defence says the shooting was an accident.

When questioned by defence lawyer Phil Mitchell, Dr Rutherford confirmed that aside from the bullet wound to her left eye, he found no bruising to suggest Ms Lake had been involved in a physical altercation. But he did find two bruises on Ms Lake's right thigh.

The Crown says Bevan hit Ms Lake three days before she was shot, and friends reported seeing a mark or spot on her left eye after that.

Crown prosecutor Paul Murray asked Dr Rutherford if he saw any signs of such a mark.

"It may be the case that she did have a black eye . . . but I can't really tell because any older bruising has been obscured by fresh bruising around the eye because of the gun shot wound."

The bullet crashed through Ms Lake's eye socket and entered her brain.

"The shock wave damage is likely to have caused unconsciousness straight away," Dr Rutherford said.

Police armourer Graham Hewitt said he tested the .22 sawn-off rifle by dropping it and hitting it with a mallet to see if it could accidently fire. It could not.

The prosecution case will finish on Monday.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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