News article from Chris Morris—Legislative Bureau– Nov. 3, 2016
Update : Pathologist tells court boys killed by asphyxiation in snake attack
CAMPBELLTON–The bodies of the 2 little boys killed in a snake attack in Campbellton had multiple punctures,abrasions and internal bleeding caused by constriction of their chests and necks, a pathologist said Thursday.
One of the boys was squeezed so tight,the snake’s skin left a lace-like pattern on the child’s flesh,Dr. Mark Godlewski of St. John told the criminal negligence trial arising from the deaths of the brothers.
Godlewski said he found many puncture wounds on the bodies of Connor Barthe,6,and Noah Barthe,4, when he performed autopsies on Aug. 6,2013,the day after they were found dead in an apt above an exotic pet business in Campbellton.
The pathologist was sent the head of the African rock python that had escaped its enclosure in the apartment and was later euthanized. He compared the puncture marks with the snake’s teeth and said they matched.
‘The pattern on the wounds was consistent with the pattern of the teeth,’ Godlewski told the jury.
Jean-Claude Savoie, the owner of the now-closed pet business called Reptile Ocean,has been charged with criminal negligence causing death. He has pleaded not guilty.
Godlewski said paleness around the mouths of the 2 boys indicated asphyxia due to neck strangulation and what he called “manual asphyxiation” caused by consistent pressure on the chest that prevented breathing. “Such as coiling around the body?”,asked Crown prosecutor Pierre Roussel.
“Yes,”the pathologist said.
The African rock python is a non-venomous constrictor known for its ill-temper.
Another witness on Thursday discussed the size of the rock python in question,disclosing that it was not as large as some witnesses thought.
As well,Dr. James Goltz,the provincial veterinary pathologist who conducted the necropsy on the snake,said it had not been fed for at least 24 hours.
Some police witnesses and a former employee of the pet store have told the court the snake was massive at least 5 metres long and more than 100 lbs.
In fact,Goltz said it was 3.8 metres or 12 ft,4 in in length with a diameter of 4.25 inches (11 centimeters).
“It weighed 53 lbs(24kgs), the veterinarian said.
Goltz told the court that apart from some blood in its digestive tract,the snake had not eaten anything for some time,at least 24 hours.
He also said that the reptiles are capable of reducing the diameter of their bodies as they squeeze through tight spots such as holes or screwed.
Ocean Eagles, a former employee at the Reptile Ocean,told the court at Wednesday. She had not been overly worried about a loose cover on a vent in the snake’s enclosure because she assumed the snake was too large to fit through the opening.
A frequent visitor to the exotic pet business also testified on Thursday and told the court the cover to a vent in the snake’s enclosure was off and lying on the floor just days before the boys died.
John O’Brien, the boyfriend of Mandy Trecartin,the mother of the 2 boys,said he often visited the pet store because Trecartin was a good friend of Savoie and his 3 year old son.
O’Brien told the court he doesn’t think the cap was ever covering,the vent during his visits, but he is only sure that he noticed it on 1 visit,about a week before the tragedy.
“The cap was not where it should have been”,O’Brien told the jury under questioning by Roussel.
“It was on the floor(of the snake enclosure).”
The jury has been told that the boys died while on a sleepover at Savoie’s apartment above the pet business. A large African rock python escaped its pen in the apt through an open vent and fell through the ceiling into the room where the boys were sleeping.
O’Brien said he checked on the boys after a panicky Savoie told Trecartin her boys were dead early on the morning of August 5,2013.
He said he went into the apt and checked for pules,but it was too late.
“They were blue’,he said.
Another witness on Thursday,Bernard Gallant,a reptile expert at the Magnetic Hill Zoo ,told the court officials with the Canadian Wildlife Service first offered the python to the zoo.
He said the zoo did not have room,but thought Savoie might be able to take it in Campbellton.
“We would have had to put it don,”Gallant said.’We didn’t have the enclosure for it.”
Thursday was day 4 of the criminal negligence trial among from the deaths of the boys Roussel is expected to wrap up the prosecution case on Friday.
Trecartin told the court Wednesday she assumed her boys were safe when she agreed to let them sleepover at the Savoie apt. Trecartin said she learned her boys were dead at around 6 : 50 on the morning of Aug. 5,2013.When Savoie burst through the front door of her house,which was near the pet store,and yelled towards her upstairs bedroom. “Oh my God!Oh my God!” Your 2 kids are dead,”she told the court. Trecartin said she never once thought her children would be in danger. She said they had slept over at Savoie ‘s about 10x prior to the tragedy. The Barthe boys were friends with Savoie’s little boy and Trecartin assigned the exotic pet store owner had taken precautions to keep the children safe.
Will keep you posted of any other news!