Stab fatal for American in Makati – medical officer

'The cause of death was the stab wound to the neck,' says PNP coroner Voltaire Nulud

STABBED TO DEATH. The victim, US citizen George Anikow, died of a fatal stab wound in his neck, the coroner confirmed. Graphic by Emil Mercado

MANILA, Philippines – The medical officer who performed the autopsy on a US citizen killed in November 2012 in Makati confirmed that he died after being stabbed in the neck, ruling out all other possible causes of death.

“The cause of death was the stab wound to the neck,” Philippine National Police (PNP) medico-legal practitioner Voltaire Nulud said on Thursday, January 24.

Nulud, head of the PNP Southern Police District crime laboratory, performed the autopsy on the victim, George Anikow, almost 12 hours after the American was stabbed to death after a brawl with 4 young Filipinos outside the gate of an upscale residential area in Makati on Nov 24, 2012.

Anikow also suffered other superficial punctures and laceration wounds made by a “sharp object,” a contusion on the back of his head and multiple abrasions, but none were fatal.

“[The stab] in his neck [severed] the carotid artery, a major blood vessel, after which the victim suffered [massive] blood loss, followed by hemorrhagic shock [since the brain was] deprived of blood,” Nulud told the court.

Juan Alfonso Abastillas, Osric Cabrera, Crispin de la Paz and Galicano Datu III are charged with the murder of Anikow, a former US Marine married to an American diplomat assigned to the US Embassy in Manila.

FATAL WOUND. Makati police chief Senior Supt. Manuel Lukban points to the exact spot where the victim received the fatal stab to his neck. Screenshot from video by Carlos Santamaria

Questions raised over neck wound

The PNP coroner explained that a wound such as the stab is fatal after only 5-10 minutes.

But several defense lawyers pointed out that Anikow was pronounced dead by a Makati Medical Center doctor at 7.20 am, about 3 hours after the incident occurred.

The victim was also bleeding to death by the side of the road on Kalayaan Ave for at least 45 minutes while security guard Rommel Saavedra waited for help.

Teodoro Jumamil, counsel for accused Crispin de la Paz, went further and produced a sketch signed by a certain Dr Anastacio which omitted the fatal stab wound.

“There is no injury in the neck,” Jumamil said after showing the evidence to Nulud, who told the lawyer he had never seen that document before.

The defense lawyer then asked the witness if the stab wound could have been inflicted after the fistfight, but prosecutor Hannah Arriola objected and judge Winlove Dumayas excused Nulud from replying.

MURDER WEAPON. One or more of the defendants stabbed the victim with this bloodstained tactical knife recovered from inside their vehicle. Photo from case file

Sloppy autopsy?

Nestor Ifurong, assistant counsel for Datu, requested the witness to explain why he did not state in his report all the organs he examined before determining the cause of death.

“Why did you not outline your autopsy in your report?” the lawyer asked Nulud, who answered that listing all organs he opened and looked at is not the standard operating procedure of the PNP, which he joined in 2000.

The medical officer explained that “it is not our process. We did a complete autopsy and only state the remarkable findings,” he said.

Ifurong refused to settle for that explanation and continued grilling Nulud over his report.

The lawyer asked the coroner if he had any proof that organs such as the brain, heart and lungs were examined, and Nulud answered that he would have to take his word for it, as a breakdown was not included in the 1-page autopsy signed by him.

CAUGHT ON TAPE. This CCTV video shows the brawl that ended with the victim stabbed to death just outside of the upscale Rockwell residential area. Screenshot from video courtesy of Makati police

No blood-alcohol test

The defense also criticized the fact that the medical officer did not analyze Anikow’s blood for alcohol.

Nulud said he actually requested for the test but was “discouraged” by Dr Joseph Palmero, head of the PNP crime lab’s medical-legal division in Camp Crame, Quezon City.

Palmero suggested that his colleague ask for a vitreous fluid test from Anikow’s stomach as the blood had already clotted.

The test came out negative for alcohol, but Nulud admitted a blood-alcohol test would have been more precise.

Saavedra told the court on January 17 that Anikow was visibly drunk when he approached him and later the car with the suspects.

Anikow was walking home from a night out drinking when he first approached the checkpoint to harass the guard and ended up provoking the suspects to alight their vehicle and engage him in a fistfight.

Judge Dumayas adjourned the trial until January 31, when the prosecution will call policeman Noel Cuestas to the witness stand.

Cuestas is a digital imaging expert assigned to the PNP Anti-Transnational Cybercrime Division who she hopes will be able to enlarge the CCTV footage and identify who stabbed Anikow and read the license plate of a taxi parked nearby. The taxi driver can be tapped as another witness. –

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