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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2005

Girl's stab wounds fatal, coroner says

Skylar Skylar
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Four-year-old Skylar Burnard, who was strangled with plastic zip ties, died from two knife wounds in her chest, a three-judge panel was told yesterday in Lucas County Common Pleas Court.

Dr. Diane Barnett, a deputy Lucas County coroner, testified that an autopsy showed Skylar was stabbed twice in the heart, and one of the punctures nearly passed through the organ.

"That normally in itself is a fatal wound," Dr. Barnett said about the deeper wound.

The testimony was given on the third day in the death-penalty trial of Eric Harmon, 32, who is charged with aggravated murder for Skylar's death. She died after she was attacked Aug. 22, 2003, in the garage of her mother's home at 6055 Secor Rd.

Harmon also is accused of stabbing his own infant son, Gavin, during the incident. Gavin, who was then 2 months old, survived his injuries.

Judge Charles Doneghy is presiding over the trial and is hearing the case with Judge Ronald Bowman and Judge William Skow.

Detective Michael Riddle, the lead investigator in the case and final witness, is expected to testify this morning, and closing arguments could be made to the panel as early as today.

Harmon Harmon
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Dr. Barnett said a finger on Skylar's left hand was cut when she apparently tried to shield herself from the knife.

She said the child was choked with two plastic zip ties that were found around her neck after the stabbing, and the bruises around her neck indicated she likely lost consciousness.

Skylar and her brother were found in the garage with Harmon about 4:30 a.m. by their grandfather, Larry Miller, and a neighbor. Harmon is accused of taking the children into the garage during a domestic dispute with their mother, Nicole Miller.

Mr. Miller and his wife went to the home after receiving a frantic phone call from Ms. Miller telling them that Harmon had taken the children. Mr. Miller testified on Tuesday that he used a key to open an overhead door on the garage and saw Harmon stabbing his own son.

The neighbor carried Gavin to safety. Skylar ran from the garage and collapsed just outside. She died later in Toledo Hospital. Harmon inflicted knife wounds on himself and fled to the house, where he was arrested.

A three-inch paring knife that investigators believe was used in the attacks was found in a bedroom in the home.

Earlier yesterday, prosecutors showed a videotape taken by police crime scene detectives at the home, including the blood-stained garage floor. Skylar's grandmother sobbed as the bloodied bare prints of a child's foot appeared on the large-screen television.



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