Jurors heard shocking new details Wednesday about the gruesome injuries that caused 20-year-old Brian Rankine-Carter’s May 2008 death.
Appearing on the murder trial’s seventh day, Dr. Bruce Hyma, a pathologist who performed the post-mortem exam, said one of the 48 blows rained down on Rankine almost severed his spinal cord, while another went through the 20-year-old’s skull, into his brain.
Rankine’s left earlobe was cut off in the attack; his jaw bone was crushed in multiple places on the right side; and a major artery and two jugular veins connecting blood to the brain were also cut through.
Mr. Hyma said a series of chop wounds caused a ‘gaping wound’ on the right of Rankine’s neck with skin and fat in the area left ‘in ribbons’.
There were also cut and chop wounds to both the victim’s arms and his right arm bone was broken in multiple places above the elbow.
The 48 wounds included 21 puncture wounds, about 2-3cm in depth, mostly around Rankine’s neck, which were probably caused with an ice pick or a similar instrument.
The Miami-based pathologist described the remaining 27 wounds as ‘chop’ and ‘incise’ wounds and said they were probably caused by a weapon that was both sharp and blunt – possibly a machete, an axe or a meat cleaver.
The man charged with Rankine’s murder, William McLaughlin Martinez, 32, sat expressionless as Mr. Hyma described the horrific injuries to the courtroom.
Martinez has pleaded not guilty to the murder, saying his co-worker, Jason Hinds, a Crown witness in the case, is the real killer.
Hinds, a Jamaican national, admits being with Martinez and Rankine at the time of the killing and says he saw Martinez attack Rankine with a cutlass, ‘chopping like he was crazy’.
Police originally arrested both men on suspicion of murder but Hinds was later charged with the lesser crime of being an accessory after the fact of murder. He has pleaded guilty to the charge and is on bail awaiting sentencing.
One officer told the court earlier this week that, to him, Hinds remains a suspect in the murder, but the police officer in charge of the murder probe insisted Tuesday that police did not get the wrong man.
Detective Chief Inspector Peter Kennett said forensic evidence eventually pointed away from Hinds and toward Martinez being the killer.
The court heard some of that forensic evidence Wednesday from Dr. Jonathan Faris, a forensic DNA specialist at the Cayman Islands Hospital’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
He said forensic tests found blood matching Rankine’s DNA profile on the Fisher’s Plumbing and Maintenance work van Hinds and Martinez have told police they were travelling in on the night of the killing.
Blood matching the victim’s DNA profile was also found on both Martinez and Hinds’ shoes, Mr. Faris said.
A Fisher’s Plumbing and Maintenance cap, found on Rankine’s left foot, had blood on it matching the DNA profiles of both Rankine and Martinez but not Hinds. Blood matching Rankine’s DNA was also found on Martinez’ wallet.
Blood on a pair of Hinds’ jeans, which were found buried behind his Bodden Town apartment, matched the DNA profile of both Rankine and Hinds but not Martinez. Blood matching Rankine’s DNA profile was also found on Hinds’ shirt, which was also buried.
Hinds has told the court he got blood on him trying to pull Martinez off Rankine during the attack.
The court heard that a machete recovered from Hinds’ house, which only showed up in evidence in the case last Friday after being ‘lost’ by police, tested negative for blood in a belated test done last week.
Tests done on a pair of jeans belonging to Martinez, which were also misplaced and only tested last week, also came back negative for blood, although Mr. Faris agreed that did not mean there was not blood on them at some point.
Defence Attorney Mark Tomassi asked whether Hinds’ machete could have tested negative for blood because it was cleaned.
‘That would be one possible reason if it ever had blood on it,’ Mr. Faris said. Using the machete to dig a hole – as Hinds has told the court he did – could also have caused the blood to be removed, Mr. Faris agreed.
The court also heard Wednesday from Police Constable Ronnie Pollard, the officer responsible for a lost police video showing Hinds pointing out where Martinez allegedly disposed of items of evidence in the case.
In a statement read to the court, PC Pollard explained that he was forced to attend a number of crime scenes in quick succession around the time of Rankine’s murder. ‘I misplaced the tape and I cannot find it,’ he said, adding it is possible the tape was recorded over.
The trial, in front of Justice Alexander Henderson, continues.