A Stark County deputy coroner, investigator, and firearms expert were among those taking the stand Wednesday in Colleen McKernan's trial.

CANTON  Ten bullets were found in the body of Rob McKernan, who police say was murdered inside his Massillon home by his wife on New Year's Eve 2014. 

Dr. Frank Miller, forensic pathologist and deputy coroner who did the autopsy on the 29-year-old man, was among those taking the stand Wednesday in Colleen McKernan's trial in Stark County Common Pleas Court. Bullets from a semi-automatic Glock pistol were fired into his back, chest, arm, and abdomen, and mouth area. Bullets hit most of his major organs, Miller testified. Gunshot residue indicated that McKernan was shot in the face from less than 2 feet away.

Jurors were shown photos of Rob McKernan laying on his back with his arms out on the floor of his Oak Trail NE home. The jury also viewed X-ray images and autopsy photos showing gunshot injuries, bringing tears from some in Judge Chryssa Hartnett's packed courtroom. Colleen McKernan sat calmly throughout the morning, and turned her face away slightly and bowed her head at times when photos of her husband's body were shown.

McKernan is facing murder and an accompanying gun specification, charges that could bring a prison term of 18 years to life if she's convicted. She has pleaded not guilty.

Miller said the sequence of the shots was unclear. He also said that he could not tell if Rob McKernan was still able to move after one of the bullets hit the lower part of his brain.

Self defense?

Defense Attorney Ian Friedman eluded to the possibility of self-defense in his line of questioning. Miller said the death was ruled a homicide, meaning another person caused the death. Coroners do not make rulings about whether homicides occurred because of self-defense, he said. Friedman also asked whether Miller could tell whether Rob McKernan lunged just prior to being shot, and Miller said he could not identify that.

A jury of 10 men and two women, plus four male alternates, was selected on Monday. Attorneys presented witnesses Tuesday to help piece together events that evening that led up to the shooting, including arguments between the pair about money and drug use.

Both attorneys Wednesday asked witnesses about a small straw found with McKernan's belongings. On Tuesday, Friedman asked a long-time friend of Rob McKernan's whether he had been using a straw or a rolled-up dollar bill to try to snort a line of crack cocaine on the back patio of a small party at a house on New Year's Eve. Mitch Nickels said his friend tried to do drugs that night, but he didn't know what type of drug or what he was using to try to consume it. Colleen McKernan stopped her husband and they argued loudly and left afterward, he said.

Miller said tests showed McKernan was intoxicated but did not indicate any drugs in his system. 

The shooting scene

Massillon Firefighter/Paramedic Chad Tharp told the court that when he and other paramedics arrived after 11 p.m. in response to Colleen McKernan's 911 call, they could not detect a pulse on her husband. They noted holes in his face, chest and lower left side. Tharp said a police officer made them aware of the gun, teeth fragments, and shell casings near the body, so that the evidence would not be disturbed.   

Stark County Coroner's Investigator Harry Campbell was asked by Assistant Stark County Prosecutor Melissa Day whether he noted anything unusual compared to the thousands of cases he has investigated. Campbell said he had expected to find shots or punctures in the walls but did not. There were no indications of spent shell casings hitting the wall, which would have been ejected from the right side of the gun, which was found a few feet from the body. 

Investigators found 10 spent shell casings down the hallway and near the body. Campbell said in response to Friedman's questions that there was no way to determine who was the aggressor, and no real way to know where the firearm was shot.

Massillon Police Officer Shaun Dadisman arrived to assist Detective Jason Gohlike in the early morning hours of Jan. 1. He said he saw McKernan briefly when she was in custody at the Massillon Police Department before he went to the northeast-side residence. Dadisman testified that in passing he heard moaning and crying from her, and what appeared to be dried blood on her face, hands and jacket. He later learned she had attempted CPR on her husband. 

Friedman asked Dadisman whether anything indicated an argument in the bedroom, or that Rob McKernan lunged at his wife, or shook her violently. Dadisman said the house was neat and orderly and there were no signs of struggle in the bedroom.

Jurors also heard from Matthew White, a firearms examiner from the Bureau of Criminal Investigations lab in London, Ohio, who examined the firearm, bullets and Rob McKernan's clothing. 

Jurors were told to return Thursday morning and to expect another full day of testimony. 

Reach Christina at 330-775-1133 or christina.mccune@indeonline.com On Twitter: @cmccuneINDE