Doctor recalls Elisabeth Salm's injuries as 'particularly horrific' at murder trial

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Elisabeth Salm, 59, was found assaulted in the Christian Science Reading Room in downtown Ottawa on May 24, 2018. She died in hospital the next day. (Submitted by family - image credit)
Elisabeth Salm, 59, was found assaulted in the Christian Science Reading Room in downtown Ottawa on May 24, 2018. She died in hospital the next day. (Submitted by family - image credit)

The physician responsible for The Ottawa Hospital Civic campus intensive care unit on the day Elisabeth Salm was admitted says her case has stayed in his mind.

Dr. Giuseppe Pagliarello, one of the attending physicians in the ICU on May 24, 2018, testified in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on Thursday.

"This was particularly horrific and is etched in my mind," Pagliarello told court.

Tyler Hikoalok, who was 18 at the time of his arrest, has pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder.

A colleague of Salm's found her apparently beaten and bloodied in the Christian Science Reading Room, where she worked, on Laurier Avenue. The co-worker called 911 and Salm was taken to hospital.

Pagliarello said before Salm was admitted to the ICU she was sent to the operating room for a procedure to relieve pressure on her brain from swelling.

The veteran critical care and trauma doctor said the severity of Salm's injuries meant the chance of recovery was "essentially zero."

Salm was placed on a ventilator and administered fluids and drugs to keep her alive in the ICU, Pagliarello said.

Her injuries — including severe swelling of her eyes — also made it difficult to perform some of the usual assessments used to determine if someone is brain dead, he said.

Doctors made the declaration of neurological death the following morning after a blood flow test, he said.

Defence lawyers Michael Smith and Brook Laforest did not cross-examine Pagliarello.

Crown attorney Lisa Miles has told court the forensic pathologist who examined Salm will be called later in the trial to testify on her injuries and cause of death.

The trial has also heard from Det. Tim Nolan about the collection of evidence from the Christian Science Reading Room, Salm's body and items seized from Hikoalok upon his arrest.

Justice Anne London-Weinstein is presiding over the jury trial.

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