Wecht: Skull blows caused death of Hempfield woman
Tina Marie Ohler likely was kicked repeatedly in the head and face and stomped in the chest, according to testimony Thursday from the pathologist who performed her autopsy.
Ohler, 40, was killed Nov. 13, 2011, in the Hempfield apartment she shared with her boyfriend, Keith Kruel.
Kruel, 39, is on trial for her murder. Westmoreland County prosecutors contend he brutally beat Ohler as they fought over a bowl of spilled noodles following a night out at local bars.
The prosecution is seeking a first-degree murder conviction against Kruel, which carries a mandatory life prison sentence if he is convicted of that charge.
Dr. Cyril Wecht told jurors that Ohler sustained skull hemorrhages, seven broken ribs and a lacerated liver. The skull injuries caused her death, Wecht said.
“One or more kicks to the face could explain the injuries I described. It would take more than one kick,” Wecht told jurors.
Most of Ohler's injuries — the rib fractures and internal bleeding that resulted from liver lacerations — were treatable, Wecht told jurors. Those injuries were caused by compression of her chest, he said.
“They were consistent with somebody pushing down or stepping or kneeling on somebody,” Wecht said.
According to police, Kruel confessed to slamming Ohler's head off a wall or door jam, then kicking her head like a “football.”
Kruel contended he passed out on a couch after he and Ohler fought. When he awoke the next morning, Kruel found her unresponsive on the floor between their bed and a dresser, wearing only blue jeans and socks, he told police.
Wecht dismissed a defense theory that Ohler's abdominal injuries could have been caused by Kruel's failed resuscitation efforts. Many of ribs were broken from behind, according to Wecht.
Jurors saw photographs of the couple's home and blood that was found on the floor and door jams.
State Police Trooper Brian Kendgia testified there were no obvious signs of struggle in the home, which appeared to have been sanitized. Blood had been cleaned.
Empty Ramen noodle wrappers were found in a kitchen trash can and a “significant amount of noodles” were discovered in a vacuum cleaner bag, Kendgia testified.
Ohler's blood was found on the inside of Kruel's blue jeans, testified Sarah Kinneer, a serologist at the state police crime lab.
Rich Cholodofsky is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6293.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Police: Charges unwarranted for Yough shop class project
- Mental health facility won’t take Franklin Regional stabbing suspect as patient
- Fundraising under way for Indiana County newborn struck by stray bullet
- Police: Jeannette woman tried to steal family’s safe
- Attorney seeks dismissal of charge in Salem wreck that killed mother, unborn child
- Somerset County man arrested after loaded gun found at Baltimore airport
- Thousands attend Mt. Pleasant Glass and Ethnic Festival
- Greensburg artist follows unusual path to creative career
- No relief in sight for Westmoreland transit passengers
- 3 confirmed cases of MRSA in Ligonier school district
- Woman robbed in Hempfield