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Third autopsy shows: Soldier died from asthma attack
The investigation into the death of Lance Corporal Curtis Marshall took an unexpected turn yesterday with the findings of a third autopsy indicating that the soldier may have died from an asthma attack. A toxicology report has since been ordered.
The third autopsy was conducted at the Forensic Science Centre in St James yesterday by pathologist Dr Hubert Daisley who also did the second post-mortem on Tuesday morning at the SD Simpson Funeral Home in Laventille. The first was done the day before at the forensic centre by pathologist Dr Eastlyn McDonald-Burris.
The first two autopsies listed the cause of death as asphyxia consistent with strangulation. However, Daisley’s report also claimed Marshall was kicked in the head before he died. On Thursday, Daisley asked to conduct further tests on Marshall’s body to clarify his earlier findings. He also visited the scene of Marshall’s death at Defence Force Headquarters, Airways Road, Chaguaramas, to compare his scientific findings to the physical evidence on the scene.
Marshall’s funeral which was scheduled for yesterday was postponed to allow for Daisley’s secondary tests. The official results of yesterday’s autopsy are expected to be released to Marshall’s family and police investigators by next Wednesday.
However, one of Marshall’s relatives who was present at the centre for the third autopsy claimed after the procedure Daisley told relatives he might have made a mistake with his first autopsy (Marshall’s second), stating that Marshall’s cause of death might have been a severe asthma attack, as previously suspected.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Marshall’s brother Dennis questioned Daisley’s change of heart, while claiming the error might be part of a “cover-up” by those allegedly responsible for his brother’s death. “I just don’t understand how I could be holding one report which said my brother died from strangulation and now they saying is an asthma attack,” Dennis said.
He said his family was totally confused by the latest revelation and maintained his family’s view that Marshall was murdered. Dennis said he had already contacted a lawyer to represent his family and would decide their next move over the weekend.
According to reports, around 11.40 pm on Saturday, Marshall, 30, collapsed outside the clothing and equipment stores at Defence Force Headquarters. He was taken to the Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital in Cocorite where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight. Sgt Sheldene Bacchus, of the Region One Homicide Bureau of Investigation, has been assigned to investigate Marshall’s death.
A source close to the investigation revealed yesterday that it was expected to be completed by this weekend or early next week. A spokesman said police investigators yesterday completed their interviews with 25 soldiers who were on duty when Marshall died on Sunday. The soldiers were not confined to barracks. The source said Marshall recently contracted a cold and this might have worsened his asthmatic condition
On Wednesday, T&T Regiment personnel and some members of Marshall’s family were able to view CCTV footage of the area where Marshall collapsed. CCTV footage has been handed over to the police Cyber Crime Unit. Marshall, who had a five-year-old daughter, enlisted in the T&T Regiment a little over eight years ago. He had been assigned to the payroll department.
Marshall’s funeral is expected to take place either Monday or Tuesday at Ryan Street in San Juan. But a source said the family has not yet decided whether they wanted a military funeral for him. If so, he would be interred at St James Military Cemetery, Long Circular Road, St James.
Around 11.40 pm on Saturday, Marshall, 30, collapsed outside the clothing and equipment stores at Defence Force Headquarters. He was taken to the Seventh-Day Adventist Hospital in Cocorite where he was pronounced dead shortly after midnight.
Defence Force speaks
Civil Military Affairs Officer of the Defence Force Major Al Alexander said yesterday the Defence Force knew Marshall had been an asthma patient. Alexander, however, made it clear when Marshall joined the T&T Regiment he was not asthmatic. Alexander also confirmed it was up to Marshall’s family whether they wanted a military send-off for him.
What is Asthma
Asthma is a disease affecting the airways that carry air to and from your lungs. People who suffer from this chronic condition (long-lasting or recurrent) are said to be asthmatic. The inside walls of an asthmatic’s airways are swollen or inflamed. This swelling or inflammation makes the airways extremely sensitive to irritations and increases your susceptibility to an allergic reaction.
As inflammation causes the airways to become narrower, less air can pass through them, both to and from the lungs. Symptoms of the narrowing include wheezing (a hissing sound while breathing), chest tightness, breathing problems, and coughing. Asthmatics usually experience these symptoms most frequently during the night and the early morning.
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