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William Wapoose died from stab wound to the neck, pathologist testifies

The forensic pathologist who performed the post-mortem examination on William Wapoose testified in the second-degree murder trial against Jonathan Massicotte

THUNDER BAY - William Wapoose suffered numerous injuries in September 2014, including a stab wound to his neck that ultimately led to his death due to a loss of blood.

On day two in the second-degree murder trial against Jonathan Massicotte for his alleged role in Wapoose’s death, the Crown called forensic pathologist Dr. Nicholas Escott to testify.

Escott conducted the post-mortem examination on Wapoose, whose body was found the morning of Sept. 3, 2014 near a bike path at the south end of Chapples Park Drive.

According to Escott, numerous injuries were observed on Wapoose’s body, including four stab wounds on his back, bruising on his face, a laceration on the top of his head from blunt force trauma, cuts across his neck, and two stab wounds on the side of his neck.

While two of the stab wounds on his back penetrated several centimeters into the abdominal wall, Escott said they alone would not have been fatal.

“These stab wounds, even though they went into the abdomen and would require surgical treatment, they weren’t life threatening and didn’t bleed very much,” he testified.

The blunt force trauma that resulted in a large laceration on the top of Wapoose’s head and a skull fracture would likely have resulted in a loss of consciousness, Escott said, but added that Wapoose likely would have recovered from such an injury.

The cuts across the front of the neck were also not fatal.

“It appears an assailant slashed across the neck with a blade a couple of times, but it did not go very deep,” Escott said. “Even though they look serious, they did not bleed very much and did not damage any internal structures such as the thyroid glands or the trachea.”

The most significant injury was a stab wound on the side of Wapoose’s neck that cut his jugular vein and carotid artery, resulting in significant blood loss. Escott said the blood loss was evident after observing the kidneys and thyroid glands, which were very pale and reduced in size.

“That’s what leads me to conclude the primary cause of death was blood loss and it probably occurred of a period of time, less than an hour, and he was probably unconscious,” Escott said.

Escott added that blood was found in Wapoose’s lungs, esophagus, and stomach, indicating that he was inhaling blood prior to death.

Alcohol was also detected in Wapoose’s system, which could have increased the level of blood loss due to alcohol dilating blood vessels in the body.

Michael Bissonnette, an expert in forensic biology and DNA analysis with the Centre for Forensic Sciences, was also called to testify on Tuesday by the Crown.

According to Bissonnette, the Centre for Forensic Sciences received several items from the area around where Wapoose’s body was found, including discarded beer cans and cigarette butts.

A total of 13 unique DNA profiles were established from items at the scene. During cross-examination by defense counsel George Joseph, Bissonnette was asked about any DNA connection Massicotte had to the scene.

“Jonathan Massciotte, biologically at least, the CFS cannot connect him to the crime scene, is that fair?” Joseph asked.

“Yes, he is excluded from all of the DNA profiles developed in this case,” Bissonnette replied.

Massicotte was first arrested and charged in connection to Wapoose’s death in May 2019 along with a second accused who cannot be named because he was a youth at the time of the offence. Massicotte has pleaded not guilty to the charge of second-degree murder.

The trial will resume on Wednesday.  

Doug Diaczuk

About the Author: Doug Diaczuk

Doug Diaczuk is a reporter and award-winning author from Thunder Bay. He has a master’s degree in English from Lakehead University
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