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Posted: 3:39 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013
SHELBY, N.C. —
Margaret Tessneer's family members left court just before the prosecutor showed jurors autopsy photos. The pathologist Dr. Steven Tracey pointed out the marks on her body. "These are recent bruises," said Tracey. Police said they are the signs of a struggle the 79-year-old victim had with Donald Borders. He has been accused of raping and killing Tessneer 10 years ago in her Shelby home. On Tuesday, Tracey told jurors she was murdered. "Mrs. Tessneer died of asphyxiation, secondary to suffocation," said Tracey. He said she was likely smothered with a pillow or soft object. But in an autopsy report Eyewitness News obtained the cause of death is listed as undetermined. A point the defense hammered home in cross examination. "There was no evidence at autopsy of suffocation was there," said defense attorney David Teddy. Teddy asked why the autopsy report didn't list any of the signs of suffocation. "I had not actually used that term in describing this case until we had the preheating," said Tracey. "Are you saying that you came to that conclusion last week," said Teddy. Teddy suggested that Tracey didn't consider the death a murder until years later when police told him they had a suspect. He said pictures of what the doctor called recent bruises on Tessneer's body could have been made days before her death. "So you are telling this jury then that parts of you autopsy is incorrect," said Teddy. Border's attorney asked the judge to strike the doctor's entire testimony because it was unreliable. The judge denied his motion. The prosecutor still has more witnesses and evidence to present. Both sides believe the case could go to the jury, by the end of the week.
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