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Lyons Trial, Day 10

Forensic Pathologist Testifies to Autopsy Findings


Jurors were subjected to another round of gruesome photos on Monday in the ongoing double murder trial of Corey Lyons. The images — which included detailed close-ups of the numerous gunshot wounds suffered by the victims — were presented alongside testimony from Dr. Robert Anthony, a forensic pathologist employed by the Santa Barbara County Coroner’s Office.

Dr. Anthony’s testimony focused on the findings of autopsies he performed on the bodies of the two victims, Dan Lyons and Barbara Scharton, shortly after their murder in the couple’s Aurora Avenue home in May 2009.

In addition to the photos, Dr. Anthony used x-rays and anatomical diagrams to describe what he found during his examination. Both victims, who were found in separate bedrooms, had been shot multiple times with at least two or three different weapons used on each. Scharton was shot five times in total, beginning with a fatal shotgun wound to the face, followed by four additional small caliber rounds that came five to 10 minutes later.

Dan Lyons was reportedly shot at least four times, once by a shotgun in the abdominal area, and three additional times from two other weapons, one of which was of the same small caliber used on Scharton. Lyons was also found with two large lacerations on the back of his head, which Dr. Anthony described as “problematic” due to his inability to determine their cause. “They could be grazing gunshot wounds or blunt force trauma,” he said. “It’s a toss-up.”

That testimony fits into the prosecution’s theory that a single individual carried out both homicides. They contend that the murderer shot Scharton first, with a single shotgun blast to the face, and then moved upstairs to shoot Lyons multiple times, only to return to Scharton in order to “finish the job.” This theory would presumably account for the time that Dr. Anthony says elapsed between the first shotgun blast suffered by Scharton, and the four additional rounds that she endured a number of minutes later.

These claims, of course, run counter to the defense’s contention that multiple shooters were involved in the crime. As a result, defense attorney Robert Sanger made sure to highlight Dr. Anthony’s inability to determine the number of assailants or the exact number of weapons used.

Dr. Anthony was also asked if it were possible that one of the victims could be the source of a mysterious cough reportedly heard by police inside the victims’ home nearly five hours after the shots were fired. “It’s theoretically possible,” he said, but “highly unlikely given the nature of their injuries.”

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