Strangulation, not fall, killed woman in 2014 Geneva case, pathologist says

Shadwick R. King

A forensic pathologist testified Wednesday at a murder trial that she doesn’t believe Kathleen King died of a fall while jogging along railroad tracks in Geneva.

“If she fell she would have had a lot more injuries there,” Dr. Mitra Kalelkar said, referring to several small scrapes on King’s left shin. Kalelkar said she also would have expected to see injuries on King’s palms and arms, as people falling forward typically put their arms out in front of them to brace themselves.

Kalelkar testified on the third day of the trial of Shadwick King, 55, Kathleen King’s husband. He is charged with first-degree murder, accused of strangling his 32-year-old wife on July 6, 2014, and then placing the body along the railroad tracks, where it was found at 6:38 a.m. by train engineers.

The defense contends King went out for a run and either tripped or collapsed, possibly due to being intoxicated. King’s blood-alcohol level was .15 when she died, almost twice the legal standard for being considered intoxicated.

Kalelkar performed the autopsy on King. She testified she doesn’t believe King hit her head on a train rail, even though King’s head was found hanging over the rail.

Instead, Kalelkar said, King was strangled. She testified that pinpoint hemorrhage bruises in King’s eyes, inside her lips, near the base of her tongue and on the lining of her larynx led her to that determination.

The bruises are formed when capillaries burst under pressure, she said, and the ones she found are consistent with strangulation.

But she admitted under questioning by defense attorney Kathleen Zellner that such hemorrhages can occur for other reasons. On Tuesday, a doctor who is an expert on strangulation testified such hemorrhages can occur during extreme vomiting, coughing or during childbirth when women are bearing down.

In Shadwick King’s first trial in 2015, prosecutors presented testimony alleging Shadwick King was jealous his wife was having an “emotional affair” -- not a physical one -- with a younger man. At the first trial, they presented more than 3,000 text messages sent, in 14 days, between Kathleen King and the man.

That has not been presented at the current trial.

The 2015 trial was a jury trial. An appellate court threw out Shadwick King’s conviction in 2018 and ordered a new trial.

The current trial is a bench trial, being heard by Kane County Judge John Barsanti.