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Blood in Pickton motor home suggested struggle, expert says

When blood-stain expert Jack Mellis entered a motor home on Robert Pickton's farm five years ago, the dried blood he discovered told a vivid story of a violent, prolonged struggle.

Blood was everywhere: on the walls, the floor, the carpet, on kitchen cabinets and a bathroom doorknob, Mr. Mellis testified yesterday.

There were also bloodied handprints on the walls and cabinet drawers.

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A foam mattress in the sleeping quarters was soaked in blood, suggesting this was where the "initial area of impact" began, he said.

Although his testimony was laced with blood-analysis jargon, Mr. Mellis's painstaking description of each blood-spattered object in the motor home told the story of a long attack -- possibly with a blunt object -- that culminated with the bleeding victim being dragged through the vehicle.

"The initial area of impact, contact, appears to have been the passenger side, rear corridor area of the motor home," Mr. Mellis told jurors at Mr. Pickton's murder trial.

In the opening days of the trial, prosecutors said they found the blood and fingerprints of Mona Wilson in the murder suspect's motor home, not far from his trailer on his Port Coquitlam farm, about 30 kilometres east of Vancouver.

Mr. Pickton is also charged with killing Sereena Abotsway, Marnie Frey, Andrea Joesbury, Georgina Papin and Brenda Wolfe.

Mr. Mellis described a series of "drip" stains found on the motor-home floor, saying they revealed that the bleeding victim was moved or carried along the vehicle from a height of 30 centimetres above the floor.

"If it were a person bleeding, one would expect the blood to be coming from them very low on the body, or they weren't standing," Crown attorney Derrill Prevett put to Mr. Mellis.

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"That's correct," Mr. Mellis replied.

Mr. Mellis and a team of investigators began searching the motor home on Feb. 7, 2002, two days after a firearms search was aborted because police found women's items.

As he spoke, Mr. Mellis held a booklet of photographs he snapped of the motor home during the probe.

The kinds of blood stains he found ranged from "castoff" stains to single droplets to "transfer wipe" stains.

A castoff stain occurs when blood from an object -- such as a weapon -- or individual is quickly shaken off.

"Transfer wipe" stains are left by a bloodied hand or limb.

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On the mattress were triangular- and circular-shaped blood impressions, Mr. Ellis said, for which he gave no explanation.

Mr. Mellis said castoff stains were found on walls, the carpet and bed headboard.

Judging from the direction of the blood drops on the walls and floors, Mr. Mellis said it appeared the struggle began in the sleeping area and moved to the front of the vehicle.

Handprint stains were found along the passageway leading from the sleeping area to the front door of the motor home, Mr. Mellis said.

Police found a pair of bloodied running shoes in a closet containing more cast-off stains.

Mr. Mellis was the ninth of an estimated 240 witnesses the Crown has said will be called to testify.

Under cross examination from defence lawyer Adrian Brooks, Mr. Mellis agreed that the motor home was filthy and not properly secured.

Mr. Brooks noted that police also found alcohol bottles and a crack pipe in the motorhome. Mr. Pickton did not drink or take drugs, according to previous testimony.

Mr. Brooks also tried to pick at Mr. Mellis's theory that an injured person with a bleeding wound was carried or moved to the front of the vehicle.

If the victim was bleeding that profusely, why were only four drops of blood found on the floor? Mr. Brooks asked.

Mr. Mellis replied that the victim's wound might have been stanched with a cloth.

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