A forensic expert testifying Thursday in Mark Twitchell’s murder case established that blood found on the St. Albert man’s clothing and other items in his possession was that of his alleged victim Johnny Altinger.
Other experts also testified Altinger’s remains found in a north Edmonton sewer were only partially recovered and the bones showed signs of sawing.
Dr. Robert Schimpf, an RCMP reporting scientist, testified about several exhibits his lab tested after receiving them from Edmonton police.
Among the items he said had Altinger’s blood on them were a military knife found in Twitchell’s car, Twitchell’s jeans found in his St. Albert home, the running shoe and belt Twitchell was wearing at the time of his arrest, several knives from a game processing kit found in the garage Twitchell rented, and a blood-soaked metal pipe.
Schimpf testified that the forensic team used items from Altinger’s home and samples from his mother and brother to compose a DNA sample.
Earlier in the day, Dr. Bernard Bannach, the assistant chief medical examiner for Alberta, told the jury the remains were found on June 4, 2010 in the bottom of a storm sewer between 86th and 87th Streets and 129th and 130th Avenues.
After confirming it would be safe to do so, Bannach sent another examiner into the sewer who recovered several large segments of human remains. Those segments, along with all the sediment, were retrieved and brought to the medical examiner.
The jury was shown images of the found remains in the sewer, which included a torso and the pelvis, but did not included the skull or most of the arm and leg bones.
He said the sternum had clearly been cut in two pieces vertically, and the nature of those cuts could not have been accidental.
“It is straight up and down, it is not ragged.”
Bannach testified there was another clear indication of a cut through the lower vertebrae.
In total, the remains were missing both arms and most of both legs, as well as the skull.
While bones can rot under damp or wet conditions it would be unusual if that were the case here, given many smaller bones were present, he said.
“I would expect the rib bones to rot away before the thigh bones.”
Crown prosecutor Avril Inglis read to Bannach several sections from the document “SK confessions,” which was a written blow-by-blow account of a murder and dismemberment found on Twitchell’s laptop.
She asked whether several sections describing the dismemberment of human remains were accurate and he said they were.