T&T soldier dies of asthma, not strangulation – pathologist apologises to family

(Trinidad Express) Pathologist Dr Hubert Daisley yesterday told the family of Lance Corporal Curtis Marshall he erred when he stated the deceased soldier was murdered.

Daisley told the family he was sorry.

He said his tests which were completed yesterday showed Marshall died of an asthma attack.

Marshall’s brother, Dennis, yesterday described the situation as “madness”.

“This place mad, yes. One minute they saying he was killed, now they saying it is natural causes? That is madness,” Dennis told the Express yesterday.

It has been a tumultuous past seven days for the Marshall family.

At 11.40 p.m. on December 29, Marshall was found lying unconscious in the vicinity of the clothing and equipment stores at the Defence Force headquarters, Chaguaramas.

Marshall, 31, was rushed via ambulance to the Seventh Day Adventist Hospital in Cocorite, where he was eventually pronounced dead.

On Monday, an autopsy conducted at the Forensic Science Centre, St James, by pathologist Dr Eastlyn McDonald-Burris stated Marshall’s death was due to strangulation.

The results of Monday’s autopsy caused Marshall’s family and friends to take to the streets of Petit Bourg, San Juan, on Tuesday and stage a fiery protest calling for “Justice for Curtis” .

On that same day, the preliminary results of a second autopsy conducted at the SD Simpson Memorial Funeral Chapel in Laventille by Dr Hubert Daisley confirmed the results of the first autopsy.

The preliminary results of Daisley’s autopsy corroborated with McDonald-Burris findings that Marshall’s death was due to strangulation.

Daisley’s preliminary results also stated that Marshall sustained several blows to the back of his head.

As a result of the findings, all those who were on duty at the Defence Force headquarters on the night of Marshall’s death were ordered to return to the base, as a homicide investigation by the police had commenced.

On Wednesday, Daisley visited the headquarters to merge his “scientific findings with physical evidence”.

Two of Marshall’s brothers were shown video footage, from closed-circuit television cameras, of the final moments of the soldier’s life.

It was also announced that Marshall would have been laid to rest with full military rites yesterday, and the family also staged a candlelight vigil for him.

On Thursday, it was announced that Marshall’s funeral was postponed, as Daisley wanted to conduct further forensic tests in order to complete his autopsy report.

The family’s week was thrown into further disarray yesterday following Daisley’s examination.

The autopsy was conducted at the Forensic Science Centre yesterday.

Daisley yesterday told the family that his preliminary findings were wrong.

He said Marshall died of an asthma attack.

Marshall’s wife, Ashlyn John-Marshall, yesterday went to the Defence Force headquarters to retrieve his car.

She was also shown the final moments of her husband’s life.

John-Marshall said she wanted closure for her daughter, Curtlyn.

Marshall’s funeral service will now be held at the Church of Christ, Ryan Street, San Juan, at 10 a.m. on Monday.

Marshall will be laid to rest at the St James Military Cemetery following the service.

When contacted about the new reports that Marshall may have died as a result of natural causes rather than foul play, Major Al Alexander, the civil military affairs officer of the Defence Force, yesterday told the Express to direct its questions to the Police Service.

Attempts to contact Deputy Police Commissioner Mervyn Richardson and Daisley yesterday proved futile.


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