Investigating Detective was properly permitted to testify as an expert in a strangulation case. Det. Dorsey testified that strangulation blocks oxygen from getting to the brain and can cause loss of consciousness. Some of the signs include petechia and bruising. Other signs are not visible, including dizziness, nausea and urination. Not every victim shows the same signs and some victims may not have any visible injuries. She explained a strangled victim can urinate or defecate after strangulation. When someone urinates that victim is as close to death as the victim can get without actually dying.
In State v. Hendricks, 273 Or.App. 1 (2015). The trial court found up to five seconds of continuous pressure was sufficient. Defendant repeatedly covered the victim’s face with a pillow momentarily cutting off her ability to breathe. During one incident, he forcefully covered her face with the pillow for about five seconds while simultaneously pinning her against the wall. Defendant was also threatening to kill her and the victim believed she was going to die. On appeal, Defendant claimed there was no proof that the victim suffered any physical injury within the meaning of the statute. He also claimed that the prosecutor should be required to prove more than just blocking a person’s nose and mouth. The state argued that any impairment of the ability of the body to function in a normal manner for any amount of time constituted impairment. The involuntary cessation of breathing – a vital bodily function in and of itself constitutes the requires impairment. The trial court agreed that the “physical injury” component of the statute has no durational requirement and the victim’s testimony provided sufficient evidence of impairment. The appellate court also refused to pronounce a principled distinction between one second, three seconds or even five. The respiratory function, like the cardiac function, is existential – essential for life.