Hannah Wilson’s head injuries were so severe investigators on the scene where her body was found believed she might have suffered a gunshot wound to the back of the head.
An X-ray revealed no bullets or any projectile fragments so forensic pathologist Dr. George Weir had to look deeper.
The back of her head was matted with blood down to her shoulders and Weir had to cut her hair in order to get a better look at the wounds.
He found she had suffered at least four blunt force blows to her head that broke through hair and skin to reach her skull and cause brain damage.
These blows were the cause of her death, the manner of which was homicide, he testified Thursday morning in Brown County Court.
Photos from an autopsy Weir conducted April 25, 2015, were passed around the jury and displayed in front of the courtroom. They showed close details of Wilson’s head injuries including skull fractures, hair matted with blood and bruises on Wilson’s face, shoulders and hands.
Weir testified that the bruising on the hands could have happened two different ways. Either Wilson was defending herself from and attack or had hit something herself.
He also described bruising on Wilson’s hip and knees and said during the autopsy he noticed dirt on her knees and grass stains on the tips of her shoes.
“I believe these came from where she fell to the ground where she was found,” Weir said.
The wounds on the back of Wilson’s head could not have been caused by a knife or weapon with any kind of sharp edge, but couldn’t rule any other type of item out of the question. He estimated that it was something round and longer than it is wide, but no longer than two to three feet.
“Being an American the first thing I think of is a baseball bat,” he said.
The damage could not have been done with hands alone and required at least 300 pounds of force to break her skin, Weir said. However, this force isn’t dependent on the person’s size and could be administered by someone who is 5’4” and 120 pounds.
Weir also said he believed Wilson was still at the time the blows were given because of the type of brain damage she had. Defense attorney Dorie Maryan countered this statement, though, because the wounds on Wilson’s hands made it seem like she was conscious.
Weir said he could not say whether the victim was conscious or unconscious for all of or part of the attack.
Weir also confirmed during his testimony that Wilson’s blood alcohol content was at .225 percent, which is two to three times above the legal level for operating motor vehicles. At this level, he said, Wilson would have had a hard time not showing signs of intoxication such as staggering and slurred speech.
Wilson also arrived at the morgue completely clothed and there was no sign of sexual assault in the autopsy, Weir said.