Medical Examiner testifies in Fierro trial


POSTED: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 12:39pm

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 - 8:57pm


Dr. Juan Contin testified Tuesday. Contin performed the autopsy on Officer Karl McDonough and said McDonough suffered several severe injuried that could have caused immediate death.

Contin said Officer McDonough suffered a fractured skull, a tear in his right lung, along with torn tissues near his heart. Contin showed very graphic photos taken during the autopsy.

Assistant District Attorney Ray Duke once again approached Officer McDonough's widow and asked her if she wanted to step out of the courtroom. She said no and stayed to hear Contin's testimony, but turned away when the photos got more graphic.

Contin said there was no indication McDonough was wearing a seatbelt.

Officer Ricard Lopez's wife, Rosa Lopez, also testified Tuesday about how her husband's severe head and back injuries. She also said her husband suffers from anxiety, and depression, and that he has been diagnosed with Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD.

She said he also forgets things.

"He wasn't the same Ricky he was the day he left to work. He would forget things. He would put the milk in the pantry, his cell phone in the freezer," said Rosa.

Rosa's sister, Nydia Castro, also talked about how the crash has impacted Lopez's entire family, including his four children.

"It's been very difficult especially for the two younger ones. The two younger ones are in middle school and elementary, and for them it's been very hard to see their father in constant pain and sometimes in and out of the hospitals."

State prosecutors also played several minutes of a dash-cam video that recorded a conversation between an El Paso police officer and Fierro when Fierro was being taken to the hospital after the crash.

In the video, Fierro admitted to drinking one Budweiser Select, then later said it was two.

In the recording, the officer asks Fierro, "Are you drunk?"

Fierro responds, "No, sir." Then Fierro asked, presumably, about the officer's condition, "Sir, can I ask you a question? Is he okay, sir?" The Fierro asked about the crash, "What happened, sir?"..."It (the stop light) turned green and the cop car hit me."

Defense Attorney Dolph Quijano then objected and demanded that the video no longer be played because he believed it violated Fierro's rights. Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza agreed and the video was stopped.

Quijano continued to argue that the tests conducted on Fierro the night of the crash are invalid because Fierro had also suffered a head injury. In his opening statement Monday, Quijano said it would ultimately be up to the jury to decide if they believed Fierro was intoxicated.

Testimony resumes Tuesday morning.


More first responders took the stand Tuesday during the second day of testimony in the intoxicated manslaughter trial of Alejandro Fierro.

Fierro is accused of driving drunk when he crashed into an El Paso Police Department patrol car, killing Officer Karl McDonough and injuring Officer Rick Lopez in October of 2010.

El Paso Fire Department paramedic Lieutenant Pando testified that he pulled Officer Lopez from the squad car and evaluated him.

Paramedic Alfredo Muñoz testified that as soon as he arrived at the scene of the accident, he asked Fierro if he was injured. Fierro said he was not injured. Muñoz said he was advised that there was one person dead on the scene, and proceeded to reassess Officer McDonough. Muñoz said McDonough was not breathing and had no pulse. He said he then used a stethoscope to check McDonough's lungs, and an EKG machine to check for a heartbeat, but there was none.

Muñoz said his intention was to go back and check on Fierro to reconfirm that he was not injured, but when he went back after assessing McDonough, he could not find him.

El Paso Police Officer Carlos Lopez also responded to the scene of the crash, and also attended McDonough's autopsy.

Assistant District Attorney Myrna Pages asked Lopez to hold up McDonough's bloody uniform shirt, uniform pants and bulletproof vest from the night of the crash.

Defense attorney Dolph Quijano asked what the bloody uniform was supposed to prove.

"If you show the jury bloody clothes, all it does is make them angry," said Quijano.

The medical examiner is scheduled to testify Tuesday. Assistant District Attorney Ray Duke told Officer McDonough's widow that graphic photos would be displayed during the medical examiner's testimony in case she wanted to step out. She advised another family member to step out, but remained inside the courtroom.

Judge Maria Salas-Mendoza said she wanted to wait until after lunch for the medical examiner's testimony, and dismissed the jury for lunch.

The medical examiner is scheduled to testify at 1 p.m.

For a live update from the trial, you can follow Sandra Ramirez via twitter at @sramirezreports.

To read about the first day of the trial, go to

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