A Pasco mother was stabbed once in the heart as she tried to fight off her attacker, a forensic pathologist said Wednesday in describing the victim's wounds.
Griselda Ocampo Meza likely lost consciousness in a matter of seconds from "sheer blood loss" and died within minutes, testified Dr. Daniel Selove.
And though the stab wound is what killed her, the 21-year-old woman had a number of fresh injuries all over her body.
The Everett doctor who performed the autopsy on Ocampo Meza took the stand in Franklin County Superior Court for nearly two hours Wednesday in the murder trial of Gregorio Luna Luna.
Luna Luna, 32, is accused of killing his ex-girlfriend. He is charged with aggravated first-degree murder, and second-degree murder as an alternative.
Selove used 22 close-up pictures -- some that lawyers acknowledged were gruesome and might be uncomfortable for jurors to view -- to give an idea of what happened to Ocampo Meza just before her May 24, 2010, death.
There were superficial punctures to her lower back, bruises under her scalp where her hair was pulled and scrapes and bruises on her face, neck and chest.
"They're certainly not fatal but they're telling us what is taking place at the time of these injuries," Selove said of the punctures that were made with the sharp edge of a knife "in a careful and controlled way."
An example is a person holding a knife against a person and restraining him or her while making threatening statements. Ocampo Meza was not moving, either by fear or physical restraint, when those shallow stab wounds were made, he said.
Selove also pointed out several cuts on the palms and fingers of Ocampo Meza's hands.
"These cuts are something that's well known in forensic pathology because sometimes they're seen on the hands of a person that's trying to either grab a knife ... or put their hand out to stop the knife blow that they can see is coming," he said. "They're called defensive wounds. They occur in the act of a person defending themselves."
Two knives -- one bent and the other broken in three pieces -- were found around Ocampo Meza's body in her kitchen.
Selove couldn't tell the jury if Ocampo Meza was standing, sitting or lying down when the knife went into her heart. He described the wound as being 41/2 inches deep.
Defense lawyer Shelley Ajax questioned if the cuts to the victim's hands could have been caused by her taking the knife out of a person's hand as their arm was pulled back as if they were removing the knife from the situation.
Selove said he couldn't be 100 percent sure about his finding, but said he recognizes it as a typical pattern in altercations where people are defending themselves against the knife.
Ajax also suggested that some of the bruises to Ocampo Meza's face and behind her knees could be from the resuscitation process or while she was being moved onto a gurney at the scene.
Selove said he would exclude some of the injuries as possibilities in that scenario, but said it's reasonable to think that might have occurred while treating her.
"It's rare that I see it, but yes, it can happen," he said.
The couple had been together for seven years, but Ocampo Meza ended the relationship in early January 2010. At the time of her death, there were two court orders against Luna Luna to stay away from her and their 5-year-old son.
Prosecutors called several Pasco officers to the witness stand Wednesday to help prove their case that Luna Luna had a history of abusing Ocampo Meza.
In September 2008, police responded to her 801 N. 22nd Ave. apartment for an assault.
The couple had been home from dinner a short time when Luna Luna heard his then-girlfriend on the phone in their bedroom. He reportedly hit Ocampo Meza when she wouldn't say who was on the other end of the line.
On Dec. 31, 2009, Franklin County dispatcher Kimberly Schultz took a 911 call from a woman who sounded frightened and was heavily breathing while trying to find a neighbor who could speak English for her. The brief call was played for jurors.
Officer Ismael Cano said he responded to the call, and got there within seconds because he was parked across the street.
The victim had a red mark on the left side of her face, Cano said. He spoke on the phone with Luna Luna, who claimed he had just found out she was seeing somebody else. Luna Luna said he would return to the complex to give Cano a statement, but he didn't show up.
Megan Vance used to work as a shelter advocate for Domestic Violence Services of Benton & Franklin Counties. She told jurors that records show from Jan. 13-15, 2010, Ocampo Meza stayed in a shelter, which is "crisis-based emergency safe housing" for women and children.
Tracy Christensen, another Franklin County dispatcher, introduced a 911 call that Ocampo Meza made at 2:39 a.m. Jan. 30, 2010.
A panicked-sounding Ocampo Meza can be heard telling Christensen "one moment" in Spanish, as she hands the phone over to a male neighbor to speak.
Officer Jonathan Davis said he responded to the complex to find Ocampo Meza dressed in a bathrobe after running to her neighbor's home.
"She seemed extremely distraught. She was crying. Her face was red. She seemed very fearful," he told jurors.
Ocampo Meza told him she was sleeping in her bed when she awoke to Luna Luna's hand over her mouth. He told her to go down to the first level of her apartment and sit on the ground, while he grabbed his son's small stool and asked her a series of questions.
"When she gave answers he didn't like, he slapped her on the face," Davis testified. Luna Luna then reportedly pulled a rope from a shopping bag and said if she didn't do exactly what he wanted, he would kill her and their son.
But when Luna Luna went to check on a noise at the back door, Ocampo Meza ran from the apartment and started banging on her friends' front door while shouting for help, he said.
Ocampo Meza told responding officers that her son was sleeping upstairs, but police found his bed empty and Luna Luna no longer in the apartment.
When police contacted Luna Luna hours later, son Allen was barefoot but wearing pajamas and curled up in a blanket in the back seat of his dad's car. The boy was crying hysterically and didn't know what was going on, Davis testified.
Luna Luna reportedly told police that he had gone to his girlfriend's house because "they've been having problems and he wanted to talk to her." Luna Luna said he found the back door unlocked, which he thought was odd, then saw Ocampo Meza sleeping naked in her bed and became extremely angry because he thought it was inappropriate.
Luna Luna claimed that her face was injured when she tripped and fell, but Davis said she clearly had been slapped and had a cut on her lower lip.
The trial continues today in the Franklin County Courthouse.