EDMONTON — A medical examiner told an Edmonton jury Tuesday that he has never seen such a severe injury as the one inflicted on Cindy Gladue, a woman found dead in a hotel bathtub.
Dr. Graeme Dowling, a former chief medical examiner of Alberta, testified over a video conference call on the second day of the manslaughter trial of Bradley Barton.
The 52-year-old long-haul truck driver from Ontario is accused of killing Gladue, a 36-year-old Metis and Cree mother, at the Yellowhead Inn in June of 2011.
This is the second trial for Barton in relation to Gladue’s death. Following his first trial in 2015, which sparked rallies and calls for justice for Indigenous women, the case ended up before the Supreme Court of Canada. It ordered in 2019 that Barton be retried.
GRAPHIC WARNING: The following details may disturb some readers.
Dowling testified that out of about 6,000 autopsies he has performed, he had not before seen the type of injury that Gladue suffered to the right side of her vaginal wall.
He said it was caused by blunt force trauma.
"I want to emphasize to the ladies and gentlemen of the jury that the force to me would be considerable," Dowling said.
"A blunt object produced the defect, not just in the vagina wall, but through and through."
The wound stretched 11 centimetres, Dowling said. He added that Gladue also had cuts and scrapes all over her body.
At one point during the doctor's testimony, Gladue's mother, Donna McLeod, put her face in her hands. Another woman later helped her walk out of the courtroom.
Dowling is to take the witness stand again on Wednesday.
On Monday, Crown prosecutor Julie Snowdon said in her opening statement that Gladue died from blood loss due to a catastrophic wound.
Snowdon said Barton and Gladue had been drinking together the night before her body was found and security footage will show the two went to Barton's room.
A police officer also testified there was blood nearly everywhere in the bathroom, and Gladue's body was located in the tub.
Edmonton police Det. Nancy Ho testified Tuesday that police searched through the hotel's garbage and discovered a metal rod with a face towel, and the towel appeared to have blood spots.
However, defence lawyer Dino Bottos pointed out that Ho didn't make a note of the blood-stained towel in her report.
Ho said police also found a note that had "Brad," along with the room number 139 and a phone number with an Ontario area code.
The trial is to last about seven weeks.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2021.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Fakiha Baig, The Canadian Press