WARNING: This story includes graphic content that may be disturbing to some readers.
A medical examiner told a jury Wednesday that a metal rod found at an Edmonton hotel where a woman bled to death could not have caused her fatal wound.
Bradley Barton, an Ontario truck driver, is accused of killing 36-year-old Cindy Gladue, a Metis and Cree woman, at the Yellowhead Inn following a night of drinking in June 2011.
Barton, 52, has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter.
Dr. Graeme Dowling, Alberta’s former chief medical examiner, testified under cross-examination about the slender rod discovered when police sifted through garbage at the hotel.
The rod could have made a puncture, Dowling said, but it could not have caused the 11-centimetre tear in the vagina wall that caused blood loss and lead to Gladue’s death.
On Tuesday, Dowling testified that out of about 6,000 autopsies he has performed over the years, he had never before seen the severe type that Gladue suffered. He said it was caused by blunt force trauma.
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.
About 10 people, most of them women, gathered briefly outside the Edmonton courthouse Wednesday morning demanding justice for Gladue, a mother of three girls.
“Why don’t we matter to the court system,” shouted Bernadette Iahtail, who lead the brief event organized by the Stolen Sisters and Brothers Action Movement. The group raises awareness for missing, murdered, and exploited Indigenous people.
“Too many of us are disappearing. My heart is broken,” Iahtail said after a drumming ceremony and prayers.
Later in his testimony, Dowling said there were no other injuries or bruises on Gladue’s body that suggested she was held down or restrained.
However, he added that not everyone bruises when they are held down.
He was also asked by defence lawyer Dino Bottos whether the blunt force trauma could have been caused by a hand or a fist.
“Those are possibilities,” Dowling said.
Bottos also asked how active Gladue would have been while bleeding from the wound.
“In a situation like that, if she was conscious for at least a few minutes, that would still allow her to be able to stand up and to walk?” asked the lawyer.
“That would be a possibility, yes,” Dowling responded.
“If she were able to walk or talk, she would be able to shout?”
“That is a possibility, I presume,” Dowling replied.
The trial, set for about seven weeks, resumes Thursday with testimony from a doctor who specializes in obstetrics and gynecology.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.