A forensic pathologist testified Wednesday that a pregnant Pasco woman suffered 47 knife wounds all over her upper body and torso and likely was unconscious from massive blood loss when her attacker allegedly cut her baby boy from her womb.
The murder trial of Phiengchai Sisouvanh Synhavong entered its third day Wednesday before a jury and Benton County Superior Court Judge Robert Swisher with Dr. Daniel Selove's detailed description of the fatal knife assault on Araceli Camacho Gomez, 27.
The mutilated mother's body was found dumped along Columbia Park Trail in Columbia Park on June 28, 2008.
The jury also heard two hours of audio recordings of the defendant calmly telling Kennewick detectives hours after the murder the details of the fatal assault that occurred in the back seat of Sisouvanh Synhavong's car on westbound Highway 240 near the entrance to Columbia Park.
Sisouvanh Synhavong told detectives the assault happened without any explanation.
"I didn't plan anything out. I just did it, out of the blue. She was hitting me over and over. She was a fighter. I don't know how many times I stabbed her," said the defendant on the audio recording.
"I just snapped. I didn't intentionally do what I did," she added.
Sisouvanh Synhavong, 25, seated between her attorneys, Dan Arnold of Kennewick and Michael Iaria of Seattle, leaned forward with her head in hands while the audio recording played.
At Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller's request, Selove showed and explained in detail a dozen large color photographs depicting the numerous cuts and stabs to Camacho Gomez. Four of the stabs into the victim's chest cut deep, puncturing one lung and her heart. Other cuts from a 3-inch blade went into the neck, arm, a shoulder and about the head.
A number of cuts to the hands appeared to be defensive, Selove said.
The doctor also showed and talked about photographs of the victim's lower abdomen where the baby was removed after Camacho Gomez had been fatally stabbed.
Pointing to a photograph showing where the baby was cut from his mother's abdomen, Miller asked: "Could these cuts have been made while Camacho Gomez was conscious and struggling?"
"Probably not, unless (she) was tightly bound and restrained," Selove said.
"Being unconscious makes perfect sense," the doctor said, adding that injuries to the chest caused about 11/2 pints of internal bleeding and loss of consciousness within "some minutes."
Selove said massive blood loss can cause unconsciousness in "anywhere from three to 15 minutes."
Kennewick Detective Craig Hanson testified earlier that some of the evidence at the autopsy included about 4 feet of twine that was used on the victim's wrists. It was believed to be white knitting yarn that was blood-stained.
Hanson also said he searched Sisouvanh Synhavong's home and found numerous baby items, including cans of baby formula, baby clothes, an unopened bag of disposable diapers, and various baby item catalogs and literature.
A stroller and car seat also were in a bedroom closet, he said.
The recording of interviews with Detective Wes Gardner included Sisouvanh Synhavong providing details about her personal life, of being a drug user as a teenager and believing that she was bipolar.
Sisouvanh Synhavong claimed in the interview with detectives that she took pills to feel good and feel special about herself. She suffered from insomnia and has an issue with anger control
"I try to deny it, but deep down I know I am (an angry person)," she shared with detectives.
Gardner asked repeatedly in the interview with Sisouvanh Synhavong in late June 2008 how she could have successfully cut the baby out of the mother's body.
"I don't know. I was cutting and ripping with all my strength. I put my hand in and felt where the baby was," Sisouvanh Synhavong said.
"I'm just a nurse's aide. They don't teach us how to do things like that," she said.
"When I got the baby out, it was beautiful. But then I got scared. ... I put the baby on the seat next to (the mother's) head," Sisouvanh Synhavong said. She told detectives she drove into Columbia Park and pulled to the side of the road where she could pull the victim's body out of the back seat and leave it on the ground near some brush.
"I pulled her out by the legs or pants," she said.
Police believe Sisouvanh Synhavong then drove to Kennewick General Hospital and tried to get medical help for the baby, claiming it was her own.
The trial with a charge of first-degree aggravated murder continues today at 9 a.m. Sisouvanh Synhavong's lawyers plan an insanity defense.
w John Trumbo: 582-1529; firstname.lastname@example.org