The 10-year-old girl slain with her uncle and grandmother in Columbus’ Upatoi area in 2016 had 23 cuts or stab wounds in addition to the massive head trauma likely inflicted with a 20-pound dumbbell, a medical examiner testified Monday in the triple-murder trial of Rufus Leonard Burks IV.
The pathologist said some of the wounds could have been made with an arrow police found Jan. 4, 2016, near the bodies of Gianna Lindsey and her grandmother Gloria Short, 54, in a hallway and living room at 3057 Bentley Drive. Gloria Short’s son Caleb Short, 17, was found bludgeoned in a closet off the home’s master bedroom.
Police said they saw no blood on the arrow, however, and it was not tested for the presence of blood.
For 90 minutes Monday morning, medical examiner Natasha Grandhi of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation crime lab in Decatur testified as Chief Assistant District Attorney Al Whitaker showed jurors 30 photographs from Gianna’s autopsy.
The graphic images illustrated the brutality with which the child was assaulted after she was bound with blue painter’s tape, some of which was still affixed to her body when it was photographed before the autopsy began.
Ghandi said she was able to count what she termed the “sharp-force injuries” or stab wounds on Gianna’s body, but the wounds resulting from “blunt force trauma” were innumerable.
“Miss Lindsey had multiple blunt and sharp-force injuries,” Grandhi said when asked her overall assessment, having detailed most of the wounds, including punctures to the left side of her neck, her left ear and her chest.
The neck wounds alone would have killed her, having punctured her carotid artery and jugular vein, interrupting blood flow to her brain, the pathologist said. But she also had profuse bleeding in her brain as a result of the bludgeoning that left her with skull fractures.
The bleeding associated with the injuries showed she still was alive when she sustained them, Grandhi said.
Crime scene investigators testifying last week said the 20-pound dumbbell was one of a pair, and they found the other one in Caleb’s bedroom. The one by the bodies had all three victims’ blood on it, they said.
The arrow came from the Shorts’ attic, where it had been stored with a compound bow, they said. They found the attic door had been left open with a ladder descending into the garage.
Police said the suspect who instigated this crime was Jervarceay Tapley, who knew the Shorts well, having spent summers with the family, sometimes accompanying them on vacations and other trips.
Tapley recruited Burks and Raheam Gibson to assist in his scheme to rob the Shorts of valuables such as cash, coins, a video game console and games, and Caleb’s clothing, particularly the Nike Air Jordan sneakers he collected, investigators said.
Photographs of others wearing the stolen clothes were posted to Facebook soon afterward.
Two vehicles also were stolen, but later found abandoned in Columbus’ Oakland Park neighborhood off South Lumpkin Road.
Tapley has pleaded guilty to three counts of murder. Gibson, who has testified for the prosecution, is to plead guilty later. Both will be sentenced after Burks’ trial.
Back in January 2016, Gibson was 19; Tapley was 16; and Burks was 15.
Now 17, Burks is being tried on 10 counts: three counts of malice or intentional murder; three counts of felony murder for allegedly killing the three victims while committing the felony of aggravated assault; two counts of auto theft; and one count each of kidnapping and first-degree burglary.