NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - Jurors in the trial of a man charged in a notorious triple murder in a Newark school playground looked at autopsy photos of one of the victims Tuesday as some family members in the courtroom looked away or covered their eyes.
They listened as an autopsy physician who examined Iofemi Hightower's body described in clinical detail the slash wounds to the 20-year-old's head, hands, neck and back and the gunshot wound below her left ear that lodged in her spinal column and killed her almost instantly.
The gunshot would have caused "immediate incapacitation," Edward Chmara testified. "Her heart may have beat on its own for a short time, but she would have been unconscious immediately."
The trial of Alexander Alfaro, one of six men and boys charged in the slayings, entered its sixth day Tuesday.
Hightower, Dashon Harvey and Terrance "T.J." Aeriel, friends who were enrolled at Delaware State University, were lined up in front of a wall and each shot in the back of the head on the night of Aug. 4, 2007, in a crime so ghastly it made national headlines and drew attention to violence in New Jersey's largest city.
Just prior to the shootings, prosecutors contend, Alfaro brutally slashed Hightower and a fourth victim who survived the attacks and testified against him earlier in the trial. The victim isn't being identified by The Associated Press because of sexual assault charges against two other defendants.
Some family members looked away Tuesday when the autopsy photos were shown to the jury. They showed a maze of slash marks covering much of Hightower's head and back.
When Chmara said that some of the wounds were caused when the blade was pried out after particularly deep cuts, a murmur went through the gallery.