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updated: 8/15/2014 7:57 PM

Medical examiner testifies about victim's stab wounds

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  • Edwin Paniagua

      Edwin Paniagua

  • Jean Louis Wattecamps

      Jean Louis Wattecamps

 
 

An assistant Cook County medical examiner on Friday described the wounds prosecutors say a pair of would-be robbers inflicted upon a 52-year-old Mount Prospect man as the murder trial of one of the defendants entered its second day.

Edwin Paniagua, 19, is charged with first-degree murder in the July 2010 stabbing death of Jean Louis Wattecamps, a baggage handler for American Eagle who prosecutors say met his attackers for the first time at his apartment complex swimming pool mere hours before his death.

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Prosecutors say greed motivated Paniagua, then 15, and his 41-year-old accomplice Marko Guardiola, who pleaded guilty in April to killing Wattecamps and was sentenced to 33 years in prison. They say the co-defendants intended to rob Wattecamps, who several hours before his death had treated Guardiola, Guardiola's girlfriend and several of their acquaintances to dinner after spending the afternoon hanging out and drinking at the Colony Apartments swimming pool. Paniagua joined Guardiola, the girlfriend and Wattecamps later that evening at Wattecamps' apartment, where authorities say Paniagua bound Wattecamps' legs with a cable. The two men then struck and kicked Wattecamps, who died from multiple stab wounds inflicted by Guardiola, prosecutors say.

Paniagua's attorneys say Guardiola, not their client, wielded the weapon and struck the fatal blows. However, prosecutors charged the teenager with murder as well, saying he's also responsible for the death.

Dr. Latanja Watkins, an assistant medical examiner who reviewed Wattecamps' autopsy photos and reports, testified that he suffered several potentially fatal stab wounds to his upper chest that injured his heart, lungs and aorta. He also suffered a spine injury resulting from a stab wound to his back, Watkins said.

The victim also received wounds to his head and scalp, Watkins said. Blows caused contusions or bruising to Wattecamps' head, upper arms, thighs, knees and shin, she said. Fractures to his skull, ribs and chest were consistent with the victim having been kicked, Watkins said.

The doctor also testified that abrasions around Wattecamp's ankles suggested "the pressure between the ligature and the skin had to be fairly tight."

Death could have occurred immediately or it could have taken up to 30 minutes for Wattecamps to succumb to his injuries, Watkins said.

Testimony continues Monday at the Rolling Meadows courthouse.

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