SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A paramedic/firefighter who treated an unresponsive woman in her home testified Monday that her husband's account that she had fallen down some stairs didn't make sense.
The testimony came as a preliminary hearing got under way for 43-year-old David Patrick Ditto, who is charged with murder in the death of his 38-year-old wife, Karina.
Shortly before 1 a.m. on March 12, Ditto made an emergency call to report that his spouse had fallen down a flight of stairs in their residence and was badly injured, according to San Diego police Lt. Ernie Herbert.
Medics performed CPR on the woman at the scene, then took her to a hospital, where she was admitted in critical condition. She died of her injuries two days later.
San Diego Paramedic/Firefighter Lisa Challender testified that the victim was covered with blood and completely unresponsive when found round the corner from the stairwell in the couple's Mira Mesa home.
"It didn't make sense to me," Challender testified, saying the victim's injuries weren't consistent with a fall.
Challender said the blood on and near the victim's body seemed to be drier than blood would have been if someone called to report a fall right away. The paramedic/firefighter also said she and others noticed scratches on the defendant's neck.
Deputy District Attorney Claudine Ruiz has said that the victim's injuries were consistent with strangulation and blunt force trauma.
She had extensive bruising all over her body, including multiple bruises to her left temple, face, jaw line, arms and legs, and even a pattern consistent with a stomp or footprint to her leg, the prosecutor said.
The couple's two children -- ages 14 and 10 -- were in the home when their mother died, the prosecutor said.
A report that Ditto's father told police that there was marital discord between the victim and the defendant was untrue, according to defense attorney Keith Rutman. He said Ditto's family was close-knit and were supportive of the defendant.
Rutman said his client loved his wife and had no reason to murder her.
If the prosecution cannot prove intent to kill, that makes the case against Ditto a manslaughter case, Rutman said. If there was a fight that went awry and the victim died as the result of an accident, that would be manslaughter, the defense attorney said.
Ditto's preliminary hearing will continue Tuesday before Judge Laura Parsky, who is tasked with determining if enough evidence was presented to order Ditto to stand trial. The defendant faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted, Ruiz said.
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