Pathologist testifies in third day of drive-by shooting murder trial

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By Caroline Curran, Reporter

BOLIVIA— It likely took James Murdock less than five minutes to bleed to death on May 8, 2008, when he was shot and killed while sitting in the front seat of a friend’s minivan.

On Friday, the third day of testimony in the first-degree murder trial of Matthew Baber, accused of killing Murdock by shooting him with an AK-47, pathologist William Kelly testified as to the cause of Murdock’s death.

Kelly, a pathologist with Coastal Pathology in Jacksonville, has a contract with the state medical examiner’s office to conduct autopsies for southeast North Carolina.

Kelly conducted Murdock’s autopsy in 2008, and he testified to his findings Friday morning.

“The entrance wound was in his lower back. There was no exit wound. The entrance of the bullet was the right lower back. The track of the bullet was through the ilium (the hip bone), went through the tailbone area, and through the right iliac artery.

“The bullet went through his kidney. We recovered the bullet from the left thigh. It was in the soft tissue. He had a about a half liter of free blood in his abdomen,” Kelly said.

Assistant district attorney Caitlin Richards asked Kelly how long he thought it took for Murdock to die after he was struck.

“The bullet went through a fairly large artery, so he would have basically bled do death within a few minutes,” Kelly said.

Defense attorney questioned Kelly about the time of death, referring to a previous conversation between the two.

Kelly replied, “within minutes, less than five minutes.”

The state rested Friday morning, after which Payne moved for dismissal, saying the state hadn’t met its burden of proof.

Superior Court Judge Christopher Bragg denied Payne’s motion, recessing court until Monday morning, when Payne will present the defense’s argument.

For more on this story, pick up next week’s Beacon.