The trial of Jordan Henry Crowe, the man facing second-degree murder charges in the death of three-year-old Dilyn Donald, continued Monday with the case for the defence.
Called on to testify was Dr. Peter Markestein, a forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner for Manitoba. Defence attorney Greg Chovin questioned Markestein about the prior forensic reports prepared for the trial.
"They were competent reports, from a pathologist point of view," said Markestein, referring to the reports prepared by doctors who testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial. "The child died of head injuries sustained, there is no doubt of that."
However, he did find some areas that left room for doubt.
"I have difficulties with the interpretation of the time interval," he said. "In forensic pathology, two questions have to be asked: What is it and what else could it be?"
In common terms, he explained that the pulmonary edema, or filling of the lungs with fluid that the coroner found Donald to have experienced, could have been caused by a blow to the head but could have been triggered anywhere from immediately after the initial impact to days later.
"We cannot be certain what happened to this child before he died," said Markestein, adding that the brain did not show signs of "shifting" or pressure exerted on one side as a result of sudden swelling.
"One possibility could be a re-bleed," he said, referring to a question of whether a prior head injury being aggravated could have caused the bleeding in the brain.
He also addressed issue of blood clotting, saying that an acidotic blood, which lab results showed the deceased had, could have kept clotting from occurring.
When asked if there was any way to give an idea as to when the injury occurred, Markestein was clear.
"We can't be certain. That would be guessing. I'm not doing that," he said.
During cross-examination, he held to this statement but was asked by prosecutor, Jennifer Claxton-Viczko, whether anything, based on his explanation, could be known for certain.
He responded by stating again that in this case, it cannot be.
Markestein was the only witness called by the defence. The trial resumes on the afternoon of Tuesday, Dec. 7, with the closing statements of both prosecution and defence.
For more on the day's events, see Tuesday's Daily Herald.