Expert: Cause of death is homicidal violence - FOX10 News | WALA

Expert: Cause of death is homicidal violence

By: walacandacemurphy, Posted by: walacandacemurphy

MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - John DeBlase sat with his head down looking at the floor Wednesday in Circuit Court Judge Rick Stouts courtroom. DeBlase is on trial for capital murder, accused of killing his son and daughter, three-year-old Chase and four-year-old Natalie DeBlase.

It’s been a week since the trial began and for the first time you could see DeBlase turn to speak with his lawyers while medical examiner Dr. Staci Turner took the stand. 

Turner testified children between the ages of three and five are supposed to have about 240-315 bones. Turner said 21 bones were recovered where Chase’s body was dumped and 68 bones were recovered where Natalie’s body was dumped.

Due to the fact the bodies had been in the elements for six plus months, investigators we’re only able to recover the children’s skeletal remains Turner explained.

Dr. Turner testified the cause of death was determined to be homicidal violence.

“Based on the evidence the most likely cause would be poisoning, strangulation, dehydration, starvation or a combination of those,” Turner said.

Turner explained the cause of death was determined based on information from homicide investigators.

Defense Attorney Art Powell points out there was no evidence of trauma to any of the skeletal remains.

Turner said in order to determine if the children were choked to death (as the prosecution alleges) neck bones would need to be examined and no neck bones were recovered from either site where Natalie and Chase’s bodies were dumped.

Anthropologist: Kids were malnourished


Anthropologist Joanne Curtin said she examined both Natalie and Chase’s remains. Curtin said some lesions were found on Chase’s skull “on the roof of the orbit which is right the top of your eyeball”.

“These have been implicated in cases of malnutrition or nutritional deficiencies such as anemia, iron deficiency anemia, vitamin C deficiency, things of that nature,” Curtin said.

Curtin also testified she examined Natalie’s bones and discovered harris lines which indicate the bone growth was halted or slowed down at one point before it began growing again.

“They can be caused by starvation, malnutrition, by psychological stress, poisoning, any number of causes and result in a growth disruption,” Curtain said.

An FBI latent fingerprint examiner showed jurors evidence recovered including  duct tape, trash bags, a sock, shirt, diaper and training pants. No fingerprints were located on any of the items which had been in the elements for six plus months.

The prosecution is expected to wrap up testimony Thursday, October 30. The Defense will then call their experts and witnesses to testify. The jury has not yet heard from DeBlase’s parents, Ann and Richard DeBlase.

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