By HEATHER NELLIS
Recorder News Staff
FONDA -- Given the number of stab wounds inflicted on homicide victim William McDermott, a struggle 15 to 30 minutes long must have ensued with his attacker, said the forensic pathologist who performed his autopsy.
McDermott and Cheryl Goss both bled to death from their wounds in the March 2012 double homicide, said Dr. Michael Sikirica, who testified in Montgomery County Court Wednesday in the trial of accused murderer Ivan Ramos.
The resulting bloody scene has been apparent in the trial to date, further emphasized in later testimony Wednesday of State Police Serologist Cheryl Strevell.
She confirmed that dozens of items recovered at 359 Locust Ave. in Amsterdam tested positively for blood, including a sneaker seized from the home of Ramos' wife.
Sikirica said McDermott's autopsy started with collection of evidence, as there were multiple items in his body bag with him. They included an empty Newport cigarette pack, cigarette butts, a twisted/knotted piece of cellophane stuck to his body, another piece of cellophane with wax paper stuck to his abdomen, and broken glass stuck in his thigh.
McDermott was wearing a "badly cut and torn" green thermal shirt and one "dirty-appearing sock," Sikirica said.
A majority of McDermott's wounds were inflicted on his head, hands and upper body, including one that pierced his windpipe in his neck, causing him to choke on his own blood, another contributing factor to his cause of death, Sikirica said.
Sikirica rattled off more than 50 injuries inflicted on McDermott, most of which Sikirica deemed "superficial" because they didn't damage vital organs. For example, on McDermott's head alone, there were stab wounds and cuts into his nose and nostrils, another above his upper lip, an abrasion on his scalp, an "interrupted scratch," and a jagged stab wound.
"It didn't cause lethality," Sikirica said of one of the head wounds. "It was painful, but superficial."
In addition to the deep stab to his larynx, McDermott's neck suffered incise wounds, scratches, and deeper, jagged wounds. On his torso, there was a trio of unilateral cuts along his shoulder, multiple cuts on his chest, and stab wounds across his back and belly.
On his arms, Sikirica said McDermott had wounds where the blade tip entered the skin in one place and exited in another, "lifting up flaps of skin."
On his legs, McDermott had abrasions on his knees, a wound on his upper thigh, and a long scratch from his calf to ankle.
Though not fatal by themselves, the summation of the wounds was deadly, and caused significant bleeding, Sikirica said.
Sikirica said Goss was wearing jeans, a shirt, underwear, and socks. He retrieved change from her pockets, as well as a disposable lighter, and a twisted Baggie of a substance that could have been a narcotic, Sikirica said.
In addition to hair and other samples, Sikirica said he recovered a piece of metal from her neck that appeared to be a piece of a zipper.
Like McDermott, Goss had a number of superficial wounds, Sikirica said. She had cuts on her scalp, and a series of three wounds on her neck that "crossed each other" toward a deeper stab wound.
She also had two wounds in the soft tissue of her neck that pierced through into the base of her tongue, but the most serious of the wounds was one to the clavicle vein in her lower neck and chest area, Sikirica said.
This wound caused Goss to hemorrhage and die, said Sikirica, as she lost a fifth of her blood volume into her chest cavities.
Goss also had stab wounds on her back, abdomen and arms.
Both victims had defensive wounds on their hands, said Sikirica, including a significant number on McDermott.
He said the V-shape wounds in between McDermott's index fingers and thumbs were consistent with someone grabbing a sharp object. Sikirica was further able to determine the weapon was a blade because of the blunt square shape on one end of the wounds.
During his cross-examination, Ramos' Attorney Mark Juda asked Sikirica if he could tell whether more than one assailant participated in the crime. Sikirica said no.
Strevell took the stand in the afternoon, the only other witness to testify Wednesday. In addition to swabs of blood from the scene, Strevell tested for the presence of blood in a sexual assault kit performed on Goss. Results were positive, but tests for semen were negative, Strevell said.
Strevell additionally testified about the Nike sneakers police linked to the scene in testimony Tuesday. She said though swabs for blood on the left sneaker were negative, three of four swab sites on the right sneaker tested positively.
Juda objected to that evidence's submission on the grounds the sneakers' recovery and transport didn't follow "the proper chain of command." His objection was overruled.
Strevell's testimony set the basis for State Police forensic scientist Brian Murphy, who will testify today about the DNA in the objects Strevell tested.
Murphy is expected to be the last witness before District Attorney James Conboy's case rests. Juda said he has witnesses scheduled to testify Friday.