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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — A deputy Iowa medical examiner testified Thursday the 26 sharp force injuries — stabbings — in Carrie Davis’ head, back, torso, arms, shoulder and legs were “sufficient” to cause her death.
Dr. Jonathan Thompson, a forensic pathologist, testified the 29-year-old Marion woman, who was 5 feet 5 inches and weighed 101 pounds, lost 400 milliliters of blood that went into her chest cavity from two injuries that penetrated her right lung.
She would have about 3 liters of blood in her body, so if she would have lost 1 liter she could die from “esanguination” — severe loss of blood, he said.
Carrie Davis died about seven days — Sept. 28, 2017 — before the autopsy Oct. 4, Thompson said. The amount of blood in her lungs could have been greater at the time of her death, he said.
Thompson said more blood was on her clothing, the carpet and mattress at the scene and the carpet roll in which her body was concealed. The carpet roll was on a utility trailer until Oct. 2, when police found her body.
Greg Davis, 30, her ex-boyfriend, is being retried this week in Linn County District Court on a first-degree murder charge. He was granted a new trial in 2020 when the Iowa Supreme Court overturned his 2018 jury conviction. The justices, in a 4-3 opinion, ruled the trial judge erred by not including an instruction to the jury on Davis’ insanity defense.
In this trial, Davis waived his right to a jury trial, choosing a bench trial — meaning 6th Judicial District Judge Sean McPartland will determine the verdict. The trial started Tuesday.
Davis is again claiming insanity or diminished capacity as his defense.
The autopsy showed Carrie Davis was stabbed in the upper back seven times. She had two head injuries, Thompson said while identifying autopsy photos in court. Two stabbings penetrated the right lung, and other wounds were in her chest, shoulders, sides, arms, hands and thigh.
Some of Carrie Davis’ family, who are attending the trial, teared up and some left the courtroom during Thompson’s testimony and when the photos were displayed.
Thompson said the back of Carrie Davis’ right hand, palm and fingers had injuries consistent with defensive wounds. The injuries to her body came from multiple directions — vertical, horizontal and oblique — which meant she and possibly her attacker were moving at the time, he said.
Thompson couldn’t determine what weapon was used, except that it had a sharp edge and didn’t have to necessarily be a knife.
Carrie Davis had no natural diseases, he said. Her heart was normal weight, and she had no coronary artery disease or other heart abnormality. Her lungs were healthy, except for the stab injuries.
Drugs in system
The alcohol or ethanol in her system was 0.18 grams, which is below the legal driving limit of 0.8, and the breakdown of nicotine in her system didn’t contribute to her death, Thompson said.
She also had 690 nanograms of amphetamine and 4,700 nanograms of methamphetamine in her system, which is high, and showed that she probably used meth the day of her death, he said.
Thompson said any amount of meth in someone’s system can be toxic because it can cause cardiac arrhythmia — irregular heartbeat- that can lead to a heart attack. The amount of meth found in Carrie Davis was “concerning,” but she died from the 26 sharp force injuries, he said. Meth, in this case, didn’t cause her death.
No one injury caused her death but rather a “collection” of all the injuries, Thompson said. He determined the manner of death was homicide.
On cross-examination, Alfredo Parrish, Greg Davis’ lawyer, questioned Thompson about the cause of death, challenging his qualifications regarding the toxicity of drugs. He said Thompson had contradicted himself because he admitted the amount of meth in Carrie’ Davis’ system was toxic.
The defense plans to have an expert testify that Carrie Davis died from a meth overdose and was already dead before she was stabbed, which would mean Greg Davis didn’t cause her death.
At one point during Parrish’s cross-examination, he asked the court for a mistrial when Thompson said he had received some personal and medical history from Carrie Davis’ mother and sister but didn’t include that in his autopsy report.
Parrish said that information should have been disclosed to the prosecution and defense. Thompson said his office does not usually attach that kind of information to an autopsy report, but that Parrish could get it from the State Medical Examiner’s Office.
Judge McPartland called a recess and asked Thompson to email that information to Assistant Linn County Attorney Mike Harris, who’s prosecuting the case, so he could share it with Parrish.
Parrish withdrew his mistrial motion and continued questioning Thompson, pressing him on the amount of meth in Carrie Davis’ system, saying it was a lethal level.
In “a race,” Parrish asked, wouldn’t the meth have killed her if a fatal arrhythmia happened before stab injuries because a stabbing death would take longer.
Thompson agreed but said there’s no information to indicate those factors both started at the same time.
Thompson, on redirect by the prosecutor, repeated his conclusion that 26 stab injuries caused Carrie Davis’ death.
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