WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CBS) – As she was being shot to death, Rhoni Reuter wrapped her left arm around her abdomen in an apparent effort to protect her unborn daughter, a pathologist testified Monday.
“The arm is covering the abdomen in a protective manner,” said Dr. Manny Montez, the forensic pathologist who conducted Reuter’s autopsy after she was gunned down on Oct. 4, 2007.
Montez was testifying for the prosecution at the trial of Marni Yang, the woman charged with killing Reuter and her unborn daughter.
Reuter, who was nearly seven months pregnant when she was slain in her Deerfield condominium, was struck by six bullets, including one that lodged in her left forearm — an injury Montez labeled a “defensive wound.”
The 42-year-old Reuter — the longtime girlfriend of former Chicago Bear Shaun Gayle — received that injury when she covered her stomach with that arm as she was hit by a volley of bullets, Montez testified.
Two of the bullets that hit Reuter also struck her baby, causing fatal injuries, said Montez.
Montez was one of the final witnesses called by Lake County prosecutors in Yang’s trial.
Prosecutors concluded their case Monday after calling Reuter’s brother, Thad Reuter, to describe his last telephone conversation with his older sister, which he said occurred about a week before her murder.
“She said the baby was kicking,” Reuter recalled.
Yang’s attorneys are set to begin presenting her defense later Monday, though it remains unlikely the 43-year-old Yang herself will testify.
Jurors hearing the case could begin deliberating Tuesday on the charges against Yang, which include first-degree murder and the intentional homicide of an unborn child.
During his testimony, Montez offered a detailed, graphic account of the injuries sustained by Reuter and her baby in the shooting.
Reuter’s injuries included three bullet wounds in her abdomen that Montez said were “potentially fatal.”
She died, though, of a bullet wound to the left side of her head, Montez said.
His testimony follows earlier evidence in which Yang can be heard telling a friend in a secretly recorded conversation that she repeatedly shot Reuter, then fired one bullet into her head and “finished her off.”
Reuter’s unborn daughter was hit by two bullets which Montez said would have killed her, even if Reuter herself had survived her injuries.
Jurors sat expressionless as Montez described the injuries and displayed photos depicting those wounds. Yang herself sat stoically during his testimony.
The Chicago Sun-Times contributed to this report, via the Sun-Times Media Wire