Larry Wellman died of a single gunshot wound, the province’s chief medical examiner told the court Wednesday.
It was a gunshot to the groin, which hit his femoral artery, that led to Wellman’s death, Dr. Simon Avis explained. It was the blood loss from the injury that caused his death.
Wellman, 63, was killed after he was shot by a masked gunman at the Captain’s Quarters hotel in St. John’s in October 2015. Wellman and his wife were patrons in the bar of the hotel when the man came in just before midnight and demanded money from the bartender, the court heard last week. Wellman attempted to intervene in the robbery when he was shot. He later died in hospital.
Brandon Phillips, 29, is on trial for Wellman’s murder, as well as charges of armed robbery, assault with a weapon and wearing a disguise with the intent of committing a crime.
Testifying at Phillips’ trial, Avis said Wellman had another significant wound: an exit wound made by the same shot in his lower abdomen. Wellman also had less serious blunt force injuries and abrasions to his head, Avis said, consistent with having been struck with or having struck something.
Avis described the interventions taken by hospital staff in an effort to keep Wellman alive, including a number of blood transfusions.
On cross-examination, defence lawyer Jeff Brace, who is representing Phillips along with lawyer Mark Gruchy, questioned Avis on the reliability of samples of Wellman’s blood he gave to police for DNA purposes.
“We know, at the very least, he’s had five blood transfusions from someone else at that point,” Brace said.
Avis agreed, pointing out it was five units of packed red blood cells, which don’t contain nuclei and would therefore not affect a DNA sample. He said, however, there may have been a few white blood cells and platelets in the transfusion as well.
“You seem to indicate it’s not an issue, yet when you provided the sample to police you indicated, you warned them you were concerned there may be a problem with it,” Brace countered.
Avis said he wasn’t concerned and had also given police samples of Wellman’s hair, which would not have had any risk of contamination.
Avis was the seventh witness to testify for Crown prosecutors Mark Heerema and Shauna MacDonald at Phillips’ trial, which will continue Thursday morning with testimony from forensic officers with the RNC.