Forensic Expert Says Iowa Woman’s Death Was Due to a ‘Slip and Fall’

March 8, 2016

Jurors in the first-degree murder trial of a former Boone, Iowa, man accused in the death of his wife heard from a forensic expert who says the woman’s death was an accident.

Lawyers for Alexander Fazzino, who is charged with first-degree murder in the January 2012 death of Emily Fazzino, called on experts who reviewed her death Thursday in a Winneshiek County court, The Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier.

Alexander Fazzino has pleaded not guilty, saying his wife accidentally drowned, possibly induced by withdrawal from prescription painkillers. Prosecutors allege that she was strangled and possibly drowned.

According to court documents, Alexander Fazzino says that he found his wife face down in the bathroom tub. He called 911 and when first responders arrived, they found her on the bathroom floor.

Dr. Neil Kaye, a forensic psychiatrist, testified that Emily Fazzino’s manner of death was likely asphyxia, though he said it was accidental based on the known information.

He said that she had complained about fainting twice, she was in a slippery bathroom and had “significant drugs in her system.” Kaye added that the facts easily explained a situation that he described as “slip and fall, hit head, drown.”

He further noted the bathroom showed no signs of struggle.

“This is just not a homicide case,” he said.

During cross examination, prosecutor Scott Brown asked Kaye about a deep tissue injury found in Emily Fazzino’s neck.

Kaye said he didn’t know where the injury came from unless it was from CPR or other lifesaving attempts.

“Strangulation – how about that?” Brown asked.

But Kaye said he did not think strangulation occurred in this case.

Dr. Michele Catellier, who performed Fazzino’s autopsy, previously testified that her manner of death was undetermined, but she favored homicide.

Thomas Brady, a private forensic consultant hired by the defense, also testified that the bathroom where she was found did not seem to be in disarray in photos. He said a bruise on her forehead could have been from a bath caddy or nearby air vent.

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