Two of the eight stab wounds inflicted on Michael Hogg on New Year’s 2014 were deadly blows, and one — the wound that ultimately killed him — would have been fatal within “seconds to minutes,” a former state medical examiner testified last week.
The prosecution finished its case on Friday in the trial of James R. Huffman IV, charged with complicity to murder, complicity to attempted murder, and malicious mischief in the January 1, 2014, stabbing death of Hogg, and the wounding of his friends Christopher Puckett and Stacy Phillips. Huffman is charged, along with Patrick Smith, in the New Year’s murder on Hayes Street in downtown Whitesburg.
The defense began its case on Monday.
Though Huffman is charged with complicity to murder, the prosecution contends that it was he who wielded the six-inch blade that killed Hogg. While many of the eight wounds were superficial, three went deep into the body, and two of those would have killed quickly, said Dr. Victoria Graham, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on Hogg only a few hours after he died en route to the hospital, less than a mile from the scene of the stabbing.
Graham testified that of the many wounds Hogg suffered, the worst two were a 5-inch deep puncture wound above his left collarbone, and a 7-inchdeep wound that entered his body between the sixth and seventh ribs on his left back. A third serious wound, which Graham said would have been treatable, went between his ribs on the left side and punctured his lung.
The second most serious wound, which Graham said might have been treatable, was the wound over his collarbone.
That wound severed the left subclavian vein, which collects deoxygenated blood from the arms and chest and carries it back toward the heart.
The wound to Hogg’s back, Graham said, caused so much damage that he would have died within seconds, or within minutes at the most. That wound went from left to right through Hogg’s torso, entered the pericardial sac around his heart, cut his inferior vena cava (the main vessel that returns blood to the heart from the entire lower body and legs), and cut the lower lobe of his right lung.
The wound caused the pericardial sac to fill with blood, squeezing the heart and making it harder for it to beat. It also caused blood to collect around the right lung , preventing it from expanding.
Samantha Mullins, who was driving the Jeep that night with Hogg dying in the passenger seat beside her, testified that he was speaking when he first got in, telling her to hurry and get him to the hospital.
By the time, the vehicle reached the foot of the hill at Hayes Street and Jenkins Road, she testified, he was gasping for breath. His hands dropped, blood “started shooting” out of his neck, and he slumped over in the seat, Mullins said, crying as she testified about the scene.
“He would stop breathing for 10 or 20 seconds and we would tell him to breathe and he would,” she said.
It got harder and harder to get him to breathe, Mullins testified.
When Kentucky State Police Trooper Brandon Thomas arrived, his breathing and heart had stopped, Thomas testified. Thomas, now a detective, had been answering a call on Sandlick when the call 9-1- 1 call came in. It took him approximately six minutes to arrive after he was dispatched.
The 9-1-1 call also took some time. Prosecutors played the recording of the calls in court last week. Mullins had called multiple times, with at least two of her cell phone calls, including the first call, being routed automatically to the wrong state police post.
The autopsy also showed numerous abrasions to Hogg’s face, head, knee and body.