Pathologist testifies at trial
Kirk Lankford is expected to take the stand when the trial resumes after a break
A forensic pathologist who testified yesterday is expected to return to the stand in the murder trial of Kirk Lankford to rebut the suggestion that missing Japanese tourist Masumi Watanabe clawed him with her fingernails.
Lankford, 23, also is expected to take the witness stand in his defense, but that will not happen for at least a week.
To give jurors a break, Circuit Judge Karl Sakamoto did not schedule trial next week, and there is no trial today because of the Good Friday holiday.
Sakamoto also granted Lankford's request to take the jurors on another site visit, which might happen before Lankford testifies.
So far, Lankford's lawyer, Don Wilkerson, has presented one witness to try to confirm his client's account that Masumi Watanabe died when she leapt from Lankford's moving truck and struck her head on a boulder.
Dr. James Navin said yesterday that Lankford's description of Watanabe after the impact indicates she was dead.
"She is clinically dead (in the) absence of a heartbeat and absence of breathing," he said.
Navin said Lankford described Watanabe's head as misshapen and with a hole in it. He said such an injury is consistent with a head hitting a 125-pound boulder at 40 mph, as described by Wilkerson.
No one has seen Watanabe or her body since she disappeared April 12. Lankford claims he put Watanabe's body in trash bags sealed with duct tape and disposed of it in the ocean about a few hundred yards off Kuala, fronting Chinaman's Hat (Mokolii Island).
Navin is expected to rebut statements made by Honolulu Medical Examiner Dr. Kanthi De Alwis, a prosecution witness.
De Alwis described injuries she saw on the back of Lankford's hands in photographs taken when he was arrested last year as gouges and abrasions consistent with fingernail marks.
Wilkerson told Sakamoto the injuries are critical in the state's case against Lankford and that Navin could not testify about them yesterday because he needed more time to prepare.
"Judge, the prosecution's entire case is circumstantial except for that one piece of evidence," he said.
An accident reconstruction expert who was on Lankford's witness list will not testify in the trial. Wilkerson had appealed to the Hawaii Supreme Court to prevent Honolulu City Prosecutor Peter Carlisle from interviewing the expert before trial. Sakamoto announced yesterday Wilkerson will not call that witness.