Accused killer, 23, ‘lost control’ and beat sex worker after discovering she was 69 and transgender – but surgical procedures could have contributed to her death, court hears
- An operation could have contributed to the death of a trans woman, the court rules
- Hector Enrique Valencia Valencia is accused of killing Kimberley McRae
- Valencia’s lawyer said he had no intention of killing the sex worker
A forensic pathologist has told a court it is theoretically possible that surgical procedures contributed to the death of a sex worker in Sydney.
NSW Health forensic pathology specialist Allan Cala said it would be unusual.
Hector Enrique Valencia Valencia has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kimberly McRae at her apartment in Coogee between January 7 and 14, 2020.
Hector Enrique Valencia Valencia has pleaded not guilty to the murder of Kimberly McRae (pictured) at her apartment in Coogee between January 7 and 14, 2020.
The 23-year-old Colombian national, arrested on the Caribbean island of Aruba and extradited to Australia, pleaded guilty to wrongfully killing the 69-year-old, but the Crown rejected the lesser plea in the NSW Supreme Court.
Valencia’s lawyer, Claire Wasley, claims he had no intention of killing Ms McRae, but enlisted her services and then “lost composure” after discovering she was 69 and transgender, punching her in the stomach and face.
Dr. Cala was questioned by Crown Prosecutor Craig Everson SC on Thursday about the opinion of an expert witness for the defense who prepared a report saying the cause of death was undetermined.
“I don’t agree,” Dr. Cala said.
“There are ample grounds to raise a clear possibility that a choking event occurred through a compressive force on the neck,” he said.
Valencia (pictured) was arrested on the Caribbean island of Aruba and extradited to Australia, pleaded guilty to wrongfully killing the 69-year-old, but the Crown rejected the lesser plea in NSW High Court
However, he agreed that a single blow could explain bruising of the neck and a fracture of the thyroid cartilage.
An airway blockage was ruled out and Ms McRae showed no signs of a stroke, but Dr Cala said her brain had begun to decompose and was difficult to examine.
He reviewed photos and notes, but did not perform or supervise the autopsy.
In addition to neck compression, there were also abrasions to Ms McRae’s lower lip that were “highly suggestive” of asphyxia.
“I think it’s a combination of the two,” he said.
Ms Wasley asked Dr Cala if an operation Ms McRae had to undergo to thin out the appearance of an Adam’s apple might mean that her thyroid cartilage was ‘not as robust’.
“It could have happened that way, but it would be an unusual cause,” Dr Cala said.
In addition to neck compression, there were also abrasions to Ms McRae’s lower lip that were ‘highly suggestive’ of asphyxia, the court heard
“I accept that it is theoretically possible.”
Ms Wasley also asked how long it would take for someone to die from suffocation.
“There’s no experimentation in this area,” Dr Cala said.
‘I understand that it can actually go quite quickly.’
The defense has disputed an allegation that an electrical cord was found around Ms McRae’s neck.
No ligature marks were found, but Dr Cala said a wig and necklace Ms McRae wore may have prevented their appearance.
He agreed that the absence of ligature marks may also have been because pressure was not applied for very long.
The Crown expects to complete the case on Friday.
Valencia is likely to begin giving testimony through a translator on Monday as the judge-only trial for Judge Dina Yehia continues.