The more Connecticut State Police examined a body found burning by the side of a dark country road, the more violence they found inflicted on it, a detective testified Friday in State Supreme Court in Riverhead.
Once the fire was extinguished on Dec. 4, 2009, Det. Priscilla Vining said, some details were immediately apparent.
Using photographs to illustrate what she saw by the side of the road, Vining said she could see blankets and melted plastic garbage bags on top of the person's head. Looking more closely, Vining said she saw an ear and part of the nose was missing, as were the fingers on the left hand.
She testified before Justice Richard Ambro at the trial of Evans Ganthier, 33, of Port Jefferson Station. He is charged with second-degree murder, accused of stabbing and mutilating Rebecca Koster, 24, of Medford, before setting her body on fire in North Stonington, Conn.
Prosecutors say he killed her after meeting her at a Holbrook bar the night before.
During questioning by Assistant District Attorney Janet Albertson, Vining said the victim was unburned on the back, and a section of the lower back had been cut out.
At the base of her throat, Vining identified four small stab wounds. An autopsy showed she died from a stab wound to her liver.
Days later, after Connecticut police put out a description of the body, it was identified as Koster's both through a tongue stud with a butterfly on it and dental records.
During cross-examination by defense attorney William Keahon, Vining said she helped Suffolk police interview possible witnesses. One man, Anthony Castro, told police that Koster called him at 3:30 a.m. asking to meet after she got home from the bar, but he declined.
Albertson said phone records will show Koster called Ganthier less than an hour later.
Ganthier told detectives that Koster tripped, fell and hit her head while walking in his garage. She died soon after and he panicked, so he cut off all her fingers, toes, ears, nose and a tattoo of a butterfly on her back, he told detectives.