Experts give insight on homicide
MENOMINEE — Twenty-five of a list of 75 potential witnesses have taken the stand so far this week during the jury trial of Gregory S. Ihander, who is charged with murdering Jolene Eichhorn in Menominee Township in 2015.
Witness testimony continued today with Judge Mary Barglind presiding over the two-week trial in Menominee County Circuit Court. Ihander, 49, was arrested on Sept. 9, 2015, when a bag of bloody items was found in his home hours after Eichhorn’s body was found in the trunk of her car at the Cedar River Harbor Marina. She was 43 years old.
The 14-member jury — which will be narrowed down to 12 jurors at deliberation — heard nine witnesses answer questions from Prosecutor William Merkel and Defense Attorney Karen Groenhaut on Wednesday.
In addition to a sheriff’s detective returning to the stand for cross examination Wednesday morning, seven other witnesses testifying were experts in forensic science or pathology.
Dr. George Krzymowski, a pathologist at the morgue at Upper Michigan Health in Marquette, explained Eichhorn’s autopsy in detail. He said she bled to death from massive blood loss caused by a deep stab wound in her chest that severed her carotid artery which supplies blood to the brain.
Krzymowski added, besides the 4- to 5-inch stab wound, Eichhorn also suffered deep cuts to four fingers on her right hand and a laceration on her left hand palm — all defensive wounds that could have resulted from her grabbing the sharp weapon as she was stabbed. The autopsy also revealed abrasions near her left eye and on her chin.
The pathologist estimated Eichhorn had experienced a rapid death within a 24-to-48-hour time period prior to the Sept. 10, 2015, post-mortem examination.
Krzymowski explained Wednesday he couldn’t estimate a more precise time frame due to the body being transported from inside a home to a vehicle involving varying temperatures and the body’s rigormortis process being disturbed in the process.
When Merkel presented Krzymowski with a hunting knife suspected of being the murder weapon, the pathologist said the victim’s wounds were consistent with the same type of knife blade.
Other evidence presented during Wednesday’s court proceedings included graphic photographs of Eichhorn’s autopsy documented by a forensic scientist from the Michigan State Police Forensic Crime Lab in Marquette.
Additional photographs presented throughout the day included images from the crime scene at the Cedar River marina where Eichhorn’s body was found in her car and the second crime scene at Ihander’s residence where he allegedly murdered her. Photographs were also presented which were taken of Ihander at the county jail where DNA evidence was taken from under his fingernails.
Forensic scientists who documented both crime scenes testified Wednesday about the investigative processes and the various evidence collected at both sites. A large amount of testimony from the forensic team focused on a garbage bag of bloody items police found in Ihander’s bathtub, as well as blood found in his kitchen.
Though the kitchen at first appeared to be clean, expert witnesses said significant amounts of blood-like spots and splatter were found in several areas including under the stove behind a bottom panel. The piece of linoleum had been removed for evidence during the 2015 investigation and underwent lab testing. The flooring was entered as evidence Wednesday along with a floor vent from the kitchen.
Results of DNA analysis of evidence found on Eichhorn and taken from Ihander have yet to be presented in court. Results are also expected on tests performed on blood found in Ihander’s kitchen, on items in the garbage bag, in the victim’s car, and on the knife which was found under Ihander’s trailer five weeks after Eichhorn’s death.
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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, firstname.lastname@example.org