SPOKANE, Wash. – Details surrounding the cause of death of 42-year-old Chanin Starbuck were the focus Thursday morning in the trial of her ex-husband Clay Starbuck.
Medical Examiner Sally Aiken showed photographs to the jury of Chanin Stabuck's body as she described in detail each bruise and mark pictured.
According to Dr. Aiken some injuries are consistent with the use of a stun gun and others show that the body could have been dragged or moved. For example, Chanin Starbuck had bruising under her armpits, which is consistent with what is seen in patients in the hospital who are moved while unconscious for different procedures. Some of the other bruises could be defensive wounds because of where they are located on the body, however, without watching the incident she explained it is hard to know for sure.
Dr. Aiken stated in court that the cause of death was asphyxia due to compression of the neck and that the manner of death is homicide. However, she said there was no ligature mark on the victim's neck. Dr. Aiken says the lack of a mark means a soft or broad based ligature was used. For example, this could be a bed sheet, soft article of clothing, or a towel. Those types of items would not leave a mark. But, she said it could also mean the victim was put in a chokehold or bar arm hold by someone, which would not leave a mark either.
A toxicology report was also performed on Chanin Starbuck after her death. The report came back negative for both drugs and alcohol.
Another topic of discussion in court Thursday was the time of death. According to the medical examiner, determining the time of death is not very accurate despite what we see on television or read in books.
Dr. Aiken said Chanin had been dead a few days before the autopsy was performed. Upon cross-examination, the defense questioned Dr. Aiken about details surrounding how the sexual violation occurred after her death.