Medical examiner announces cause of death in murder trial

Published 3:47 pm Wednesday, November 17, 2010

By KATIE HURST/ Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA — A state medical examiner took the stand Nov. 17 in the capital murder trial of Ryan Gerald Russell. Russell, 37, is charged with the death of 11-year-old Katherine Helen Gillespie on June 16, 2008 at his home in Inverness where her body was found inside a trashcan in an SUV in his garage.


Adel Shaker, medical examiner and forensic pathologist from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences, testified the cause of Gillespie’s death was a contact gunshot wound to the head.

Shaker said upon examination of the body, he also found a red contusion on the chest and lower left thigh. Shaker said the contusion on the chest is likely from a blunt force trauma, which could be explained by the deployment of an airbag.

Shaker said he also found evidence of sexual abuse.

When Shaker received the body for autopsy, several pieces of evidence from the scene were included, which were found inside the trashcan with the body.

Shaker said among the items were a men’s shirt covered in blood and a book bag. Inside the book bag he found a pair of black gloves, a latex glove and two spent bullet casings stored in a zip-top bag.

Shaker said he does not know who placed the items inside the backpack.

Circuit Court Judge Michael Joiner dismissed the jury at 3 p.m. The trial will resume Nov. 18 at 9 a.m. Joiner said the state should rest it’s case by noon.