Webcam murder trial: Neck compression could have killed Toronto student

Qian

Qian "Necole" Liu was speaking to a friend in China via webcam when she was attacked. (Toronto Police handout photo)

Sam Pazzano, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:22 PM ET

TORONTO — The official cause of Qian “Necole” Liu’s death cannot be determined, but it was most likely caused by neck compression, a pathologist testified at her murder trial Wednesday.

“With the pathological evidence we have, we can’t tell exactly what happened,” testified Dr. Jeff Tanguay at Brian Dickson’s first-degree murder trial.

Dickson, 32, pleaded not guilty to murder in the death of the 23-year-old York University student. However, Dickson pleaded guilty to manslaughter and though prosecution rejected the plea, it admits his part in Liu’s death.

Tanguay performed the autopsy on Liu and found some minor injuries, bruising on her right temple area, her triceps, neck and upper back as well as pinpoint bleeding inside her eyes.

Pinpoint bleeding is a symptom of neck compressions either from choking and strangulation, heavy pressure on the chest, suffocation of airways or a combination of all three, explained Tanguay.

Liu could also have been killed by a heavier man sitting on her chest or back, a process called “burking,” Tanguay told defence lawyer Rob Nuttall.

The prosecution explained Liu and her ex-boyfriend Xia Chao Meng were involved in a lengthy, online chat on Skype when Dickson forced his way into Liu’s basement apartment. Meng saw the initial sexual advance, but the rest of the struggle was off camera.

Dickson’s semen was found on Liu’s abdomen and she was found lying face down and stripped from the waist down.

Nuttall asked Tanguay if Liu could have been killed by a blow to the chest -- triggering a cardiac arrest -- or by an underlying heart condition. He agreed it was possible. The pathologist didn’t have Liu’s medical records at the time of the post-mortem exam.

Dickson’s videotaped police statement started to play before the jury in the late afternoon.

Det. Sgt. Frank Skubic informed Dickson that he was a “person of interest” and possibly a suspect in Liu’s “suspicious death” as he matched the assailant’s description and lived in the same dwelling.

The trial resumes Thursday.

sam.pazzano@sunmedia.ca


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