Medical Examiner: Tanisha Colton's cause of death unknown - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Medical Examiner: Tanisha Colton's cause of death unknown

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(01/13/14) - The Wayne County Medical Examiner, who performed Tanisha Colton's autopsy, testified Monday she can't pinpoint an exact cause of death.

Dr. Leigh Hlavaty did determine Colton was a victim of homicide - that is, someone killed her.

"My ultimate conclusion is I don't know how she died. She was asphyxiated, but I cannot tell you if she was smothered, if she was sat on or if it was a combination of both of those," Hlavaty said.

Hlavaty's testimony marked the start of the third day of testimony, since Henry Conner's preliminary exam began Oct. 25. It determines if there is enough evidence to send him to trial.  Conner is the father of Colton's three children. 

Police and prosecutors have said, from the start, asphyxiation and suffocation couldn't be ruled out.

Colton was found in a ditch near the Michigan-Ohio border almost two weeks after she went missing from Flint last March.

Hlavaty said she was dead before being dumped because she didn't have mud in her lungs or stomach, but she couldn't of been there long because she wasn't frozen and didn't have frostbite.

The only injuries on her body were a skin scrape on her eyelid, a faint bruise on her chest and one of her fake nails was broken off, according to Hlavaty.

The only substances in her body were caffeine, nicotine and by products of both of those.

Police believe Conner was abusive and also learned Colton believed he sexually assaulted one of their kids.

Conner's mother also testified Monday that she brought Colton and the child to the hospital Christmas Day, 2012.

She said Conner showed up shortly after they arrived and claimed Colton and her grandmother made up the abuse allegation.

Investigators previously detailed what they believe happened prior to Colton's death. See that story HERE.

Conner's attorney, Frank Manley, maintains Conner is innocent.

Manley said it appears from the testimony, and lack of evidence, that police should reopen their investigation to find the real killer.

Conner's hearing continues next month and could run at least two more days.

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