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Experts Agree on Survival Time After Shooting

Trial: Defense and prosecution witnesses both say Megan Barroso could have lived long enough to be raped.

April 16, 2002|TRACY WILSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Echoing the opinions of a prosecution witness, a defense expert in bullet wounds told a judge Monday that slain Moorpark College student Megan Barroso could have lived for minutes to hours after being shot in the abdomen last summer.

Dr. Martin Fackler, a former military surgeon, testified that because of decomposition it is difficult to determine how long Barroso may have survived after being shot with an AK-47 assault rifle while driving home July 5.

The fatal bullet ripped through the driver-side door and hit the 20-year-old woman in the left side. Three bullet fragments were found during an autopsy after her body was found in a ravine near Simi Valley a month after the shooting.

The question of how long Barroso lived after being shot is a key issue in the case against murder suspect Vincent Sanchez.

A 31-year-old Simi Valley handyman, Sanchez could face the death penalty if prosecutors prove that he killed Barroso during a kidnapping and rape attempt.

Defense attorneys, who concede that Sanchez shot Barroso, contend that she probably died before a rape could have occurred.

Last week, pathologist Richard Mason testified that Barroso could have lived for as little as 15 minutes or as long as two days, depending on whether the bullet fragments hit her aorta or kidney.

Fackler also said that Barroso could have died within 15 minutes if bullet fragments hit those areas but could have lived for several days if they lodged in the bowel.

Unlike Mason, Fackler said Barroso could have slipped into unconsciousness immediately and died sometime after.

On cross-examination, he said Barroso probably would have survived if she had received immediate medical attention.

In other testimony Monday, a crime scene investigator testified about knives and ski masks found in the homes of several rape victims who Sanchez has admitted attacking between 1996 and 2001.

And a Simi Valley detective involved in those investigations testified that police seized videotapes from Sanchez's home that depict him sexually assaulting two women.

Testimony is scheduled to resume today in Ventura County Superior Court.

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