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Published April 19, 2012, 10:23 PM

Gruesome details emerge in day 3 of Wacht murder trial

Cooperstown, ND (WDAY TV) - In day 3 of the Daniel Wacht murder trial the State Forensic Examiner gave new details into the death of NDSU researcher Kurt Johnson. Wacht is accused of shooting and decapitated Johnson in Cooperstown on New Year's Eve 2010.

By: David Schwab, WDAZ, WDAY

In day 3 of the Daniel Wacht murder trial the State Forensic Examiner gave new details into the death of NDSU researcher Kurt Johnson. Wacht is accused of shooting and decapitated Johnson in Cooperstown on New Year's Eve 2010.

State Forensic Examiner William Massello testified on how Kurt Johnson was killed. He did that by showing photographs taken during the autopsy of Johnson's decapitated head found in Wachts basement, the body has not been found.

William Massello – ND Forensic Examiner: “When a bullet runs into the skull it causes a fracture, and there is all of this bleeding and that is an indication that there was some circular activity when this gunshot occurred meaning the heart was probably pumping."

Massello says that is evidence the Johnson's head was removed after he was shot and already dead.

William Massello; "Normally when you cut something you get bleeding under the skin where the vessels have retreated and swelling and this doesn’t have any.”

Massello say the bullet hole was likely caused from a nine millimeter gun, the same caliber found on Wacht when he was arrested just days after Johnson went missing. He says the gunshot wound also shows it was done at a close range.

Attorney: "So the core of that bullet traveled all the way throughout the skull and back out the skull on the other side.”

William Massello: “Yes"

Many of the pictures were so graphic some people covered their eyes during most of Massello testimony. Massello could not say when or where the decapitation took place, only that it had to have been done with a very sharp object.

William Massello: “Superficial tails on the portion of this meaning there wasn't just one big cut meaning there was more of one movement of the instrument.”

Massello's testimony was not as much about proving Wacht committed the crime, but just how gruesome the act was Also today,

A state investigator described Wacht's reaction when he was told the head of NDSU researcher Kurt Johnson was found in his basement. Arnie Rummel says Wacht paused, turned red, and sunk in his chair.

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