Five-year-old Quinn Butt’s cause and manner of death were officially ruled undetermined, a medical examiner testified this morning.
Dr. Simon Avis — who was the province’s chief medical examiner from 1996 until his retirement last week — testified in St. John’s at the first-degree murder trial of Trent Butt, Quinn’s father, telling the jury Quinn had no anatomical cause of death.
She did have abrasions on her lip and chin with a pattern consistent with teeth, Avis said.
“Did she have any injuries to her head? Evidence of stabbing? Evidence of poison? Stroke? Infectious disease?” Crown prosecutor Lloyd Strickland asked Avis, who responded “No” to each question.
“Are you able to rule out smothering?” Strickland asked.
“No, sir,” Avis replied. “(Her death) could very well have been caused by smothering.”
Avis said it isn’t uncommon for a smothering victim to have no injuries. He noted Quinn’s abrasions could have been a result of attempts by medical personnel to revive her, but “having seen hundreds and hundreds of intubations,” he had never experienced that before.
“There’s no technique of intubation where you push on the mouth,” he explained.
Butt’s defence lawyers, Derek Hogan and Shanna Wicks, had no cross-examination questions for Avis.
Butt, 40, has admitted he killed Quinn in his Carbonear home during the early morning hours of April 24, 2016, though he says he can’t remember it. His lawyer told the jury at the start of the trial last week Butt concludes he must have smothered his daughter.
Butt was depressed at the time, Hogan said, and upset as a result of his separation from Quinn’s mother, what he felt was frustrated access to Quinn, and the fact he believed he had “no place in her life.”
Butt has also admitted he then cut his own neck and wrist and set fire to his home, with his daughter and himself inside.
Butt has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder on the grounds that he didn’t plan nor intend to kill Quinn.
Strickland and fellow-prosecutor Jennifer Lundrigan say Butt had devised a murder-suicide plan in an effort to hurt his ex-wife, and had every intention of doing what he did. The only flaw in his plan, Strickland told the jury, was that it failed.
The two prosecutors have so far called nine witnesses to testify, and have read written statements from a handful of others, which have been agreed upon by Butt.
Hogan has indicated Butt intends to take the stand himself after the Crown wraps its case.
The trial is continuing; further updates to come.