Ottawa mom had 53 knife wounds, severed spinal cord

Tamrat Gebere has pleaded guilty to manslaughter in the death of Aster Kassa.



OTTAWA -- The 53 knife wounds to Aster Kassa's body included stabs and slashes to her neck that cut a jugular vein, her windpipe and severed her spinal cord, court heard Monday.

Her ex-boyfriend, Tamrat Gebere, 37, is on trial for second-degree murder.

Kassa, 32, a single mother, also had numerous "defensive" wounds on her hands and arms.

Pathologist Dr. Jacqueline Parai took the jury through gruesome autopsy photos, starting with a photo of a 12.5-cm long gash to Kassa's neck.

There were so many injuries that Parai couldn't trace the path of each wound because they all blended together.
Even Kassa's backbone was cut.

"Severe force is required to break bones," Parai said.

Kassa had 27 cuts and stab wounds to her hands and forearms. One went right through her wrist, another through her hand.

"These are in keeping with defensive injuries -- injuries that are sustained when somebody tries to protect themselves," Parai said, explaining victims will raise their hands to protect their head and chest or try to grab the weapon being used on them.

Gebere, who has pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of manslaughter but not guilty to murder, sat with his head bowed, never looking up as jurors viewed the grisly photos.

Police were called on July 17, 2010, to an apartment that Kassa had moved into just the day before with her 17-month-old daughter.

Gebere made the frantic 911 call, confessing to killing Kassa, while their toddler screamed in the background.

It's up to the jury to decide whether he intended to kill her.

Defence lawyer Samir Adam argued that the evidence is consistent with a "sudden and frenzied" attack.

"Frenzy is not a pathological interpretation," Parai said.

She said the concentration of blood in the corner of a bedroom suggests her injuries and death happened in one area.

Kassa was found atop of the mattress in her daughter's crib.

Parai agreed Kassa's bled from 29 stab wounds, evidence her heart was still beating.

"Mr. Gebere was able to inflict all 29 wounds before the heart stopped beating?" Adam asked.

"Yes," Parai said.

She couldn't say how long it would have taken to inflict the wounds but said death would been quick after Kassa's neck arteries were cut.

The trial continues Tuesday.

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