Medical examiner says woman was run over by a vehicle prior to her death

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State Police Investigator Larry Domkowski pointing to recovered evidence in the roadway. Photo is from day three of the trial.

POUGHKEEPSIE – The murder trial of William “Billy” Dicke resumed on Thursday.  Dicke is accused of murdering Danielle Distefano on January  22, 2022, in Rhinebeck.  The 35-year-old Distefano died, according to the Dutchess County Medical Examiner’s Office, after Dicke ran the victim over with a van, breaking her pelvis and causing severe internal bleeding.  The cause of death, according to Assistant Medical Examiner Dr. Kia Newman, was “extensive internal bleeding and exsanguination.”

Dr. Newman took the stand and explained the autopsy process to the jurors and explained the extent of the injuries Distefano sustained.  Photographs were presented that showed extensive bruising on her torso along with multiple abrasions and contusions on her lower extremities as well as her hands.

The witness noted that internal damage to the hip and pelvic area included at least two avulsion pockets.  The pockets are typically the result of a body coming into contact with a heavy object, such as a vehicle.  The weight of the vehicle presses against the skin and separates the skin, muscle, and fatty tissue, resulting in substantial internal bleeding.  Distefano’s pelvis was completely fractured.  Dr. Newman said that she believed that the victim was onm the ground when she was run over by one wheel of a vehicle, damaging her pelvis and causing severe internal bleeding, as evidenced by the contusions (bruises).

The victim had minimal traces of cocaine and marijuana in her system and a blood alcohol content of .187 percent which is twice the legal limit had the victim been driving.  Dr. Newman testified that the amounts of cocaine and marijuana in the victim’s system were not enough to kill her.

Witness previously testified that Dicke told them he thought he ran over her ankle.  The medical examiner disagreed with that assumption, saying that had he drove over her ankle, it would have sustained more serious injuries.

During cross-examination, Dicke’s attorney, Anthony DeFazio asked the doctor if any arteries in the pelvic region had been lacerated.  The doctor testified that no arteries had been damaged and the internal bleeding occurred at a slow rate from the veins that had been damaged.