'He bled out'

Medical examiner says Jason Clark died a slow death after being stabbed in the neck
Sep. 27, 2013 @ 08:16 AM

Jason Clark most likely died over a period several minutes as his blood flowed out of his neck, a medical examiner told jurors in the third day of the murder trial of Robert Steven Hawkins.

Hawkins, 45, is charged with first-degree murder in Clark's death from a stabbing early on Oct. 19, 2010. Hawkins maintains that he was defending himself after Clark threatened him with a shotgun.

Dr. Donald Jason of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, who examined Clark's body on Oct. 20, 2010, said Clark "bled out" from a knife wound in his neck 2 1/2 inches deep, 1/2 inch long and 1/8 of an inch wide. The knife tore through muscle and surrounding tissue, and through the third and fourth vertebrae. The knife sliced a small artery on the left side of the neck behind Clark's ear and cut down toward the front of his neck.

"He wouldn't have died right away from blood loss. It took many minutes," Jason told jurors. "He could have been mobile until he became unconscious."

If the jugular vein or carotid artery had been cut, death would have come much faster, he said.

Jason also said Clark suffered what he called a defensive wound -- meaning one indicating he tried to defend himself from the knife attack -- to his left hand, between the thumb and wrist. But Jason admitted the wound could have been caused by grabbing the knife blade.

Jason said Clark's blood-alcohol content was 0.36 percent. The alcohol level was even higher, 0.49 percent, in his urine.

Clark and Hawkins had been drinking vodka and beer for hours before the stabbing.

Evidence shown to jurors Thursday included the handle of the knife prosecutors say was used to stab Clark, but not the blade. John Ferguson, a former agent of the State Bureau of Investigation, testified that he found the handle of the knife but not the blade, despite searching inside and outside of the house, including under the couch and love seat and under seat cushions.

The bloody knife blade was found a month later under a seat cushion by Clark's father, Everette Clark.

Prosecutors also introduced into evidence a muzzle-loader rifle that was found behind Clark's slumped body in the kitchen, and a double-barrel shotgun found in a gun cabinet that was unlocked and had its door slightly ajar. Testimony about the guns is expected in the coming days.

Testimony resumes today, with video of the sheriff's office interview of Hawkins.