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Originally published Wednesday, March 18, 2009 at 4:57 PM

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Defense pathologist questions autopsies done on slain Hunt County couple

A forensic pathologist questioned the autopsies performed on a slain couple during testimony Wednesday in the capital murder trial of their son, Brandon Woodruff.

GREENVILLE, Texas —

A forensic pathologist questioned the autopsies performed on a slain couple during testimony Wednesday in the capital murder trial of their son, Brandon Woodruff.

Dr. Joy Carter, medical director with Forensic Pathology Associates in Indianapolis, disputed that a dagger introduced into evidence as the possible murder weapon could have made the stab wounds on the victims — Dennis and Norma Woodruff. The dagger's length, width and shape made it highly unlikely, Carter said while on the stand as the first witness called by defense attorneys.

"The opportunity has been missed to determine how these stab wounds, these sharp force injuries, were caused," she said.

Authorities contend Brandon Woodruff, 22, killed his parents in their home in Royse City in October 2005. Woodruff is being tried on one count of capital murder and has pleaded not guilty.

While on the stand Wednesday, Carter said there was an apparent lack of forensic testing on hair samples found in Norma Woodruff's hands, the Greenville Herald-Banner reported.

"It would be nice to know if the hair matched the decedent or somebody else," she said.

The family friend who found the couple two days after authorities say they were shot and stabbed also testified Wednesday, disputing prosecutors' theory that the Woodruffs gave their son an ultimatum to either succeed at Abilene Christian University or move back home. Todd Williams, an extension agent for Rockwall County, said the Woodruffs knew their son had dropped some classes at the school, but had not given him any deadline.

"They were really hoping he could get it straightened out so he could continue on," Williams said.

"He is a kid who loved his parents," Williams said.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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