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News / Clark County News

Vancouver Officer Sahota ultimately died from gunshot wounds, not stabbing, former medical examiner testifies

Julio Segura's murder trial will continue Monday into third week

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: May 16, 2024, 1:17pm

Clark County’s former medical examiner told a jury Wednesday that the stab wounds off-duty Vancouver police Officer Donald Sahota suffered were life-threatening, but they weren’t what ultimately killed him.

Dr. Martha Burt testified Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning in the second week of Julio Segura’s murder trial.

Segura, 22, is accused of stabbing Sahota multiple times as the two struggled in Sahota’s Battle Ground driveway in January 2022. Moments later, Clark County sheriff’s Deputy Jonathan Feller arrived and mistakenly shot Sahota.

Prosecutors argue Segura’s actions caused Sahota’s death. He is charged in Clark County Superior Court with three counts of first-degree murder and one count each of attempted first-degree murder, second-degree murder, attempted first-degree kidnapping, first-degree burglary, first-degree robbery, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and attempt to elude a pursuing police vehicle.

Burt worked for the Clark County Medical Examiner’s office from 2015 to 2023. In court Wednesday, she held up the knife Segura allegedly used to stab Sahota and showed the jury how far the blade had plunged into Sahota’s abdomen. She described the knife’s path in Sahota’s body — how it punctured some internal organs and barely missed critical organs, such as his aorta and his spine.

She also explained the pathway of a stab wound in Sahota’s neck that went into his chest cavity, puncturing his lung and slicing a large vein.

She testified that stopping the bleeding from his neck wound would’ve been nearly impossible on scene and he would’ve required surgery to survive.

Burt testified that the gunshot wounds to Sahota’s back were not survivable — even if he had been in an operating room — and they ultimately caused his death.

Burt cut open evidence bags containing the clothes Sahota was wearing at the time. Clark County Prosecutor Tony Golik held the blood-stained jeans, T-shirt and other items up for the jury.

Sahota’s mother looked down while they held up the clothes and projected photos from Sahota’s autopsy on a screen.

Prior to Burt’s testimony, a forensic scientist with the Washington State Patrol crime lab said he concluded Feller fired four shots and at least three of them struck Sahota. He also determined Sahota fired one shot from his pistol, toward the ground. Prosecutors have said Sahota likely fired involuntarily after being shot.

Following Burt’s testimony, the jury listened to a three-hour recording of Kelso police detectives’ interview with Segura.

The trial is scheduled to continue into a third week Monday.