Charles Toyer is escorted into Lucas County Common Pleas Court in Toledo for the start of his trial, Monday, September 17, 2012. He is charged with the stabbing death of Tiffany Wilborn.
The injury that led to Tiffany Wilborn’s death was a stab wound that penetrated 3½ inches deep, puncturing her heart and coming within an inch of her spine, a deputy Lucas County coroner said Wednesday.
Dr. Diane Scala-Barnett further stated that this injury was “purposefully” done.
The deputy coroner testified during the second day of Charles Toyer, Jr.’s murder trial in Lucas County Common Pleas Court. She was one of a total of 16 witnesses — including three for the defense — who testified in the two-day trial.
Both the state and defense rested their cases on Wednesday. The jury is expected to hear closing arguments and begin deliberations today.
Mr. Toyer, 21, is charged with one count of murder in the March 11 stabbing death of Ms. Wilborn, who was his live-in girlfriend and the mother of his child. If convicted, he faces up to life in prison.
During opening statements Tuesday, Mr. Toyer’s attorney said that the stabbing was an accident that occurred during an argument when Ms. Wilborn stepped into the knife that Mr. Toyer held in his hand. Assistant county prosecutors countered that the death was an intentional killing.
Dr. Barnett acknowledged during her testimony that she could not determine how much pressure was used to cause the wound but testified that it was “purposefully” done.
The doctor also testified that the victim had fresh abrasions on her torso, face, legs, and arms.
“It is a purposeful movement of putting a sharp instrument through about six layers of tissue,” she said. “A great deal of force is needed.”
When questioned whether the wound could be self-inflicted or the result of an accident, Dr. Barnett said that people would naturally stop themselves from plunging onto a knife like this because “it hurts too much.” She added that the straight trajectory of the wound through the heart also suggests that it wasn’t an accident.
“There is nothing about the wound, there is nothing about the trajectory, there is nothing about this that suggests accident at all,” she testified.
Ms. Wilborn’s younger sister, Natiqua Triplett, testified that the alleged argument that resulted in the stabbing was not the first time her sister and Mr. Toyer had fought. She said she witnessed at least two occasions when the two were fighting and that Mr. Toyer became physical with Ms. Wilborn, including one instance in which she allegedly was choked.
When questioned by the defense, Ms. Triplett said that she did not tell anyone of the incidents because her sister asked her not to and that Ms. Wilborn did not need medical attention.
The couple’s neighbor at their Western Avenue apartment was called as a defense witness. Patrick Bertin testified that he heard an argument on the night of March 11 and saw the couple fighting.
Mr. Bertin told jurors that it appeared to him that Ms. Wilborn was the aggressor and that Mr. Toyer was trying to defend himself during the altercation.
“She was very aggressive,” Mr. Bertin said. “He was trying to get away.”
In rebuttal of Mr. Bertin’s testimony, the state called three witnesses, including another neighbor and the detective who interviewed Mr. Bertin at the scene. Toledo police Detective Donald Comes testified that he was not told that Ms. Wilborn was being aggressive or that Mr. Toyer was defending himself.
Also testifying on behalf of Mr. Toyer was his grandmother, who said that Ms. Wilborn had left a prescription bottle at her home once containing anti-depressants.
Judge Dean Mandros told the jury of that they would begin deliberations after hearing closing arguments today.