MENOMINEE — Jolene Eichhorn died a bloody, painful death. But it was a quick death, according to the pathologist who oversaw her autopsy Sept. 10, 2015, in Marquette, Michigan.
Dr. George Krzymowski testified Wednesday in Menominee County Circuit Court that “death occurred rapidly” for Eichhorn, whose body was found in the trunk of her car in the parking lot at Cedar River Marina Sept. 9, 2015.
Greg Ihander, 49, of Birch Creek, is being tried for open murder in her death.
Krzymowski said a stab wound in Eichhorn’s neck severed her right carotid artery, causing her to rapidly lose blood to her brain and her heart.
“There was massive bleeding into the chest,” he said of the stab wound which was 4 to 5 inches deep.
Prosecuting Attorney William Merkel asked Krzymowski why he categorized it as a stab wound, and Krzymowski said it was because the wound was deeper than it was wide.
But Eichhorn had other significant lacerations on her hands, one on her left hand and multiple cuts on her right hand, “one which nearly severed her ring finger,” the pathologist said. “There are certain kinds of wounds, offensive or defensive. These appear to be defensive,” Krzymowski said.
Krzymowski said the autopsy carried out at Upper Michigan Health Systems Sept. 10, 2015, indicate Eichhorn was trying to grab the knife with both hands that was thrust into her upper chest, and received the most serious cuts because the blade was one-sided.
“The cuts were in the same direction of where the wounds (in her neck) were,” Krzymowski said, adding they were consistent with the actions of someone trying to grab a knife. He later looked at the knife found at Ihander’s home and said it was consistent with the type of knife that caused Eichhorn’s wounds.
Merkel asked Krzymowski to explain how death would occur when the carotid artery was cut.
“The carotid artery is very close to the heart, and there is a huge amount of pressure,” the doctor said. “If (blood) comes out under pressure, it’s going to spray. It can be modified a little bit because of the wound.”
He said a person could stand less than a minute, and would lose blood to the brain within minutes, becoming unconscious.
Krzymowski said there could be some pooling of blood, which is what happened in Eichhorn’s case, because the knife nicked the pleural cavity, a space between the membranes of the lung. As a result, about 1.5 liters pooled there, he said.
“How much blood does a person have?” Merkel asked. Krzymowski said, normally, between 3.5 to 5 liters. But Eichhorn “was a small woman,” he said.
“One-hundred, eighteen pounds, about 5(foot), 4 (inches). There were 3.5 to 4 liters estimated in her system.”
Merkel asked him for the cause of death. “Exsanguination,” he said. “She lost so much blood, it was incompatible with life.”
“What was the manner of death?” Merkel asked.
“Homicide,” Krzymowski answered.
Karen Groenhout, the attorney representing Ihander, asked if Krzymowski could determine the time of death.
He said he could only estimate, based on the last time she was seen alive and when her body was found, along with the amount of rigor mortis, or the stiffening of the muscles as the body starts to decompose; or livor mortis, when the blood starts to pool in the lowest parts of the body.
He said some rigor mortis was evident, but not livor mortis, suggesting “she hadn’t been dead that long” at the time of the autopsy in the morning of Sept. 10, 2015.
“I would say 24 to 48 hours before,” he told Groenhout.
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