There are new developments in the Yeroskipou trial dubbed as the ‘dog mauling case’ with witness testimonies casting doubts over the cause or manner of Petrana’s death.
Earlier this week, private forensic pathologist Marios Matsaskis testified for the defence, saying he had seen a more complete set of photographs in the case, prompting him to believe the victim might have died elsewhere and possibly injured by a machine.
A 28-year-old defendant is facing homicide and criminal negligence charges in the death of Petruna Milchova Nikolova, a 46-year-old Bulgarian national who was found fatally injured in a rural field in Yeroskipou, Paphos district, on 22 February 2018.
The case was complicated due to multiple autopsies, with officials initially saying they were dealing with a death resulting from multiple injuries possibly caused by farming equipment. Subsequent autopsies pointed to dog bites after police investigators said they were tipped off about two Rottweiler dogs from the area that might have mauled the victim to death.
Witness said there was no basis to state with absolute certainty that some injuries could have been caused solely by dog bites but preclude other possibilities
Last week, the defence peppered state forensic pathologist Angeliki Papetta with questions over on-site autopsy and post mortem report conclusions, with the expert admitting during cross-examination that police investigators had influenced the outcome with additional details. A preliminary autopsy by another state forensic pathologist, Nicholas Charalambous, had indicated a machine or equipment as a likely cause of death but subsequent reports named dog bites as the cause of death.
Matsakis, who testified for the defence, pointed to specific wounds on the scalp, right arm, and left forearm, saying there was no scientific basis to state with absolute certainty that those injuries could have been caused solely by dog bites and preclude other scenarios such as farming equipment.
The private forensic pathologist admitted that there had been dog bite marks when he had seen the body over a week after the incident, but initial post mortem photographs showed a more accurate picture, Matsakis said.
Specifically, he pointed to the scalp under which there had been no dog bite marks following the scalping injury. Questions were also raised as to the conditions around the body and the opinion that there had been far less blood in the immediate vicinity around the body than what could have been expected after a vicious canine attack.
More witnesses also testified for the defence, including a weather official and a dog trainer. The dogs in question were also described as friendly and sociable, while defence attorney also raising questions as to why there had been only a single hair found on the victim and not multiple, with the prosecutor responding that dog hair might have been removed during the ambulance ride to the Emergency Room.
The defendant, a 29-year-old dog owner who pleaded not guilty to manslaughter charges, remains free on a €100,000 bail and has surrendered his passport and identification documents. He is also required to report to a police station every day while his dogs, despite not belonging to a dangerous breed, must wear a dog mouthpiece and remain on leash, according to the bail terms.
The trial was set to continue on Friday.