Jurors hear brutal details
February 25, 2003
Jurors on Monday were shown gruesome pictures of the slashed throat that muffled the screams of a dying 9-year-old Rebbeca Aramburo, whose mother is on trial for murder.
Lisa Platz, Rebbeca’s mother, asked to be excused during the testimony of Dr. Donald Henrikson, a forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on Rebbeca four days after the child was found dead inside a tent at Campground by the Lake on Sept. 21, 2001.
El Dorado County District Attorney Gary Lacy had Henrikson focus on the larger of two wounds which ran from ear-to-ear underneath Rebbeca’s chin.
Henrikson said the large slash cut the trachea but avoided the jugular. It made air escape before hitting the vocal chords and likely caused Rebbeca to suffocate on her blood. A smaller cut was not fatal.
Unopened cuts, called spurs, beneath the chin were caused by the child struggling or the murderer hesitating before cutting the throat, Henrikson said.
Bruises and abrasions were also found on Rebbeca’s body. Henrikson said cuts on Rebbeca’s hands could have been caused by her trying to defend herself and grabbing the knife.
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On cross-examination, El Dorado County Public Defender Rick Meyer confirmed that Henrikson wasn’t sure if Rebbeca’s throat was cut by somebody behind or in front of her.
Platz and boyfriend James Csucsai were with Rebbeca when authorities stormed the bloody tent after a nine-hour standoff which started when a police officer spotted the vehicle of the couple wanted for kidnapping in Washington.
Platz faces life in prison for the first degree murder charge and kidnapping with special circumstances. She remains in El Dorado County Jail without bail.
Csucsai committed suicide last April in his jail cell.
The prosecution believes Platz stationed her daughter in front of her and killed Rebbeca to end a custody dispute. Platz was found partially covering her daughter with self-inflicted wrist wounds when officers cut the tent open.
The suspected murder weapon, a large military knife, was discovered a foot above Platz’s head, officers testified.
Besides Henrikson, Lacy called six officers to the witness stand at El Dorado County Superior Court to question them about the apprehension of the tent’s occupants. He continued the testimony of South Lake Tahoe Police Officer Rob Heindl, who spotted the white Nissan and made initial contact with the adults.
“Ms. Platz’s statements constantly revolved around death and dying, such as, ‘We’re all prepared to die in here’ while Mr. Csucsai’s comments were more like ‘we want to leave,'” Heindl testified.
Officer David Allen also gave his account of events. Allen is the handler of Hobbs, a K-9 unit, and was positioned about 50 feet from the west side of the tent.
Allen said Hobbs barked several times. Platz and Csucsai were reported to have said Hobb’s barking was scaring Rebbeca, causing her to scream.
The trial is scheduled to resume this morning at 9 with more law enforcement officers to testify.
— E-mail William Ferchland at email@example.com