« Continue Browsing

e-mail article Print     e-mail article E-mail

Brittany Lawonn, Published March 25 2008

Expert testifies about Alice Willey's gunshot wounds; says she was dead before her house was set on fire

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. – The former acting state medical examiner testified this morning that Alice Willey was already dead when the fire at her home was started last year.

Dr. Mary Ann Sens testified that during the autopsy on the Sykeston, N.D., woman, she did not find any soot in her airway, but found two gunshot wounds. One shot was to the head and the other was above the collarbone, going through the chest and embedding in the upper abdomen, Sens said.

“When you opened up the body you could actually see where what I’ve labeled bullet No. 2 went,” she said, explaining the bullet traveled through Willey's the lungs, heart and diaphragm.

Sens said she could not say which gunshot was first, but either would have been fatal.

Sens also testified that Donald Willey was dead before the fire. A family pet died in the fire, she said.

Aron Nichols is accused of shooting Willey and her husband, Donald, at the behest of his fiancée Tamara Sorenson and then setting the Willeys' home on fire. Sorenson did not want the Willeys to have visitation with her daughter, who is also their grandchild, several witnesses have testified.

Sens today also gave jurors a more detailed description of the condition Alice Willey’s body was in, saying there was extensive charring to the body and most of her skin had been burned off because of the house fire. Her face was not recognizable and most of her extremities had been burned away.

Few photos of the couple have been introduced into evidence, but X-rays were admitted this morning showing bullets found inside their bodies and a gunshot wound to Alice Willey’s head.

Sens will testify about the fatal injuries to Donald Willey when the trial resumes this afternoon.

Nichols and Sorenson face up to life in prison without parole if convicted of the murder and accomplice charges.

Check back with www.inforum.com for updates and see Wednesday’s Forum for more details.