By LINDSAY OLIVIER
SOUTH KINGSTOWN – “Camden Fry died of cardiac arrest due to asphyxia due to manual strangulation and the manner of death is homicide.“
This was the finding of former Rhode Island Medical Examiner Dr. William Cox, who performed the four-hour autopsy on Camden and who testified Tuesday afternoon at Washington County Superior Court in the trial of the State of Rhode Island vs. Kimberly Fry.
Fry is charged with second-degree murder after her daughter was found dead on the morning of Aug. 11, 2009. It’s alleged that Fry strangled Camden after she refused to take a bath the previous evening.
Dr. Cox, a medical examiner since 1963 who has been involved in over 13,000 autopsies, concluded the manual strangulation finding was based on the combination of petechiae – small red or purplish spots – on Camden’s neck, upper chest and chin as well as soft tissue acute hemorrhaging in those areas and the extreme mobility of the thyroid, trachea and hyoid bone.
He also indicated that Camden had sustained blunt force trauma to her chest, but that was not the underlying cause of death.
During the interior examination of Camden’s chest cavity, Dr. Cox observed hemorrhages to the left lung and the pericardium sac surrounding her heart, which proved that significant pressure was administered to her chest.
The state ended questioning of Dr. Cox Tuesday afternoon and the defense was scheduled to begin cross-examination Wednesday morning.
The trial is in its second week of testimony and the jury is still hearing witnesses for the state.
Throughout the past week’s proceedings, Kimberly has been very involved in discussions with her attorneys, Sarah Wright and John Lavoy and has been seen numerous times writing frantically on a notepad.
After three days of emotional testimony, Timothy Fry, Camden’s father, was excused from the witness stand last Wednesday afternoon after he testified that he heard Kimberly state on Aug. 10. 2009, just two days before Camden’s death, that she “wished Camden wasn’t around”.
This information was not relayed to North Kingstown Police until June 10, 2011. When questioned by Assistant Attorney General Steven Regine as to why he didn’t communicate this to police, Timothy simply stated, “I woke up one morning and remembered what she said.”
Timothy also reminisced about some of the activities he enjoyed with Camden, such asice skating, hiking in the New Hampshire mountains and riding bicycles and he was also her soccer coach. He also helped Kimberly with PTO events at Fishing Cove Elementary, the school Camden attended, which was something he enjoyed a great deal.
Friday morning began with testimony from two North Kingstown Police officers who were among the first responders to the Ricci Lane home within minutes of Timothy’s frantic 911 call, which the jury heard last week.
Jurors also viewed a seven-minute video taken by Det. Robert Hazard just prior to the arrival of personnel from the medical examiner’s office. The video showed the state of Camden’s bedroom the morning she was found and included images of her body in bed, still in her pajamas.
In addition, Sgt. Joel Mulligan read a five-page note allegedly written by Kimberly on the evening of Aug. 10, the night Camden died and also the same evening Kimberly allegedly took multiple prescription medications in an attempt to kill herself.
“I don’t know what came over me,” the note read. “I just couldn’t take it anymore, this is no way to live, fighting and fighting, just because I ask her to take a bath. I wish it could just be us, but it can’t.”
Timothy found the note on Sept. 2, 2009 when he was using a notepad to make a list of things he needed to accomplish for the day.
Hazard testified that just prior to the medical examiner personnel taking Camden’s body, he observed her parents at her bedside. He stated that Kimberly was hysterical. “Kimberly was lying over her daughter’s body and I heard her say several times ‘I’m sorry’. We stayed in the room the entire time the Frys were saying goodbye in order to maintain integrity of the scene.”
Once Camden’s body was taken out of the room, two other NK Police Detectives seized her bedding as well as multiple prescription bottles which were identified as Clonazepam, Cymbalta, Vicodin, Flexeril and Ambien that Kimberly took the previous night in an alleged failed suicide attempt.
The police department obtained two search warrants of the Ricci Lane home, one was conducted on Aug. 12 and the second the next day. From both searches, police confiscated electronic equipment and a black Cambridge notebook.
The following morning, Aug. 12, 2009, Hazard responded to the Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s office with 27 pieces of evidence obtained during the two searches. Hazard and Mulligan were both present during the three-hour autopsy.
Kerry Burke, a Rhode Island Medical Legal Death Investigator from the state’s Medical Examiner’s office, testified Monday morning that upon arrival in Camden’s bedroom, she observed her to be in a full state of rigor–which is stiffening of the jaw, arms and legs–as well as lividity, the settling of blood causing a purplish red discoloration of the skin.
The jury was shown pictures taken by Burke of Camden, who was still in her bed. The pictures depicted areas of petechiae, which were found on Camden’s neck, upper chest and chin area. Burke also observed abrasions around both of Camden’s nostrils as well as a small contusion on her forehead.
While the pictures were being shown, Kimberly sat with her head down and sporadically sobbed.
Burke also testified noticing abrasions on Camden’s ankles, knees and hands. While Burke and another investigator were working in the room, a request came from the Frys that a priest who was on scene be allowed to give a final blessing. She testified that Kimberly and Timothy were escorted in and Burke and the other employee backed away from Camden but stated she maintained constant eye contact with the body.
“She (Kimberly) appeared very upset, shocked and crying,” Burke said. “She bent over Camden and began caressing her face and forehead. She was mumbling things but I couldn’t understand what she was saying.”
Because of the severity of the situation and importance of preserving the body, Burke became concerned with Kimberly touching Camden and began moving towards Camden to start prepping the body for transport.
“It was a terribly emotional moment for all parties involved,” she said. Burke attempted to obtain a history of the last 24 hours leading up to the incident. She tried talking to Kimberly, who was unable to speak. Burke described her manner as “shocked and in an incoherent state.”
Kimberly was sitting in a chair with her head back and rocking back and forth sobbing and unable to make eye contact with anyone.
“Since we’re not law enforcement, sometimes we’re able to get more information from individuals,” Burke said. “But we got nothing from Kimberly. It was her husband who was speaking on her behalf and he said Kimberly and Camden had watched a movie, ate popcorn and went to bed at 8:30 p.m.”
Burke testified that the only information she received from police was that there had been a struggle the previous night and that police were told Camden had been dragged to bed.
Monday afternoon, just before Dr. Cox was to take the stand, two women entered the courtroom and sat behind the defense table.
Kimberly turned around and mouthed “Please go, it’s going to be too much”. Kimberly’s attorney Sarah Wright then approached the two women and they left the courtroom.
The trial was scheduled to resume Wednesday morning with defense attorney Sarah Wright cross-examining Dr. Cox.
He’s expected to be on the stand for the remainder of the week.