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Medical examiner details North Hills mom's fatal injuries; state rests case

Posted February 12
Updated February 14

Travion Smith listens to testimony along with his defense lawyers Jonathan Broun and Pheobe Dee.
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— The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on a woman murdered in her North Hills apartment two years ago said during her testimony on Friday that it could have taken several minutes to an hour for the 30-year-old to die from her injuries.

Melissa Huggins-Jones was found murdered in May 2013 shortly after she moved from Tennessee to the Triangle. Lauren Scott, associate chief medical examiner, said Huggins-Jones sustained 18 blows to her head, neck and upper torso, and she eventually bled out.

“(Huggins-Jones) would have known that she would have had these injuries and likely would have known she was beginning to lose consciousness from the loss of blood from the injuries,” Scott said.

Travion Smith, 23, is on trial for Huggins-Jones’ murder—he is one of three people charged in connection to the death. After the state rested its case, Smith told the court he would not testify in the trial, and the defense said it would not present any evidence.

Scott said on Friday that the wounds—12 to the head and face and six to the upper torso—were consistent with sharp- and blunt-force trauma. Scott traced a line with her finger across her own face as she described one injury to Huggins-Jones as a “gaping laceration” that ran 4 inches across the victim’s nose and right cheek.

Huggins-Jones’ death, though, was a result of the all of the injuries, rather than one fatal blow.

“There were several (injuries) that were more severe than others,” Scott said. “But it was combination of all the injuries that led to her death.”

Huggins-Jones had a number of bruises on her arms and legs, which Scott classified as “defensive-type” wounds, though she couldn’t say definitively because the wounds could have been inflicted in another way.

The mother and father of Huggins-Jones were visibly upset during the emotional day of testimony. While Scott detailed the victim’s wounds, her father walked out of the courtroom.

The judge recessed court and excused the jury around 11:15 a.m. The jury is made up of six white females, five white males and one Asian male.

The trial is expected to continue at 9:30 a.m. on Monday with closing arguments.

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