Medical examiner testifies Lynchburg teen still alive when hand cut, neck slit

Closing arguments were made this morning in the case of Kevin Soto-Bonilla.

Closing arguments were made this morning in the case of Kevin Soto-Bonilla.

both sides have rested their case in the trial of Kevin Soto Bonilla. He’s accused, along with others, of murdering Lynchburg teen Raymond Wood in Bedford County in March 2017.

The final witness called by the Commonwealth was Dr. Amy Tharp. Tharp is the assistant chief medical examiner in Roanoke and performed the autopsy on Wood’s body.

She testified to the extent of Wood’s injuries and said his cause of death was blood loss from sharp force injuries. Tharp testified that Wood was still alive when his hand was severed and his neck slit.

“The injury itself was very bright pink, red which tells me that there is a vital reaction to that injury,” testified Tharp. “When we do an autopsy and we cut a dead person as part of that procedure, there is no red,” she said.

Tharp testified that the hand injury came first, followed by injuries to the neck and chest. Tharp testified that she did not believe Wood was still alive when some of the chest injuries were inflicted.

Tharp also told jurors that there were about 12 injuries that could have single-handedly been lethal to Wood had they been inflicted alone and not in conjunction with any of the others.

On cross-examination, defense attorney Anthony Anderson asked Tharp if Wood was conscious when the injuries were inflicted. Testimony from prior witnesses indicated that Wood was choked unconscious in the backseat of a car prior to being pulled out and stabbed.

Tharp said she was unable to determine whether Wood was conscious, but that he was still alive during much of the stabbing.

Earlier in the day, jurors had submitted a question to the judge about witness testimony from the day before. They requested a transcript of the witness testimony to clarify a question they had.

Defense attorney Anderson made a motion for a mistrial in the case based on the belief that the jurors had been discussing the case amongst themselves prior to hearing all of the evidence. He said this negatively impacted Soto Bonilla’s opportunity to have a fair trial.

Judge James Updike denied the motion for a mistrial, saying Soto Bonilla should be guaranteed a fair trial, but not a perfect trial.    He began the day by providing the jurors additional instructions to not discuss the case prematurely and to disregard any conversations about the case that may have occurred up until this point.

Following a mid-day recess, the defense called its first witness and began presenting its side of the case. Both sides have now rested their cases and closing arguments are scheduled to take place Wednesday morning.

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