FARGO, N. D. – A medical examiner testified Monday that he is not sure whether a North Dakota woman whose baby was cut from her womb died due to blood loss or strangulation.
Dr. Victor Froloff hot Savannah Greywind August 2017, death an unusual case with “two competing causes of death.”
William Hoehn, 33, is accused of conspiracy in Greywind’s death, which drew attention to violence involving Indigenous women. Hoehn’s ex-girlfriend, Brooke Crews, pleaded guilty earlier and was sentenced to life without parole.
The uncertainty about the exact cause of death can be important, because Hoehn, who has admitted to helping cover the crime, has denied any knowledge that the Crew planned to kill Greywind and her baby. Hoehn says he came upon a bloody scene in the bathroom of the couple’s apartment, with the Crew presenting him with a baby girl and says: “This is our baby.”
But the prosecutors said in opening statements that Crew told Hoehn she was not sure if Greywind was dead, he put a rope around Greywind’s neck and tightened.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Brad Randall, witnesses for the defense, said he agreed “a lot” with Froloff findings. He added that it was “more than likely” that Greywind would have died of blood loss in less than 30 minutes.
Crews and Greywind had his friends, and Greywind had a text message from her mother just before she disappeared to say that she was going to Crews’ apartment. After Greywind was reported missing, police searched Hoehn and Crews’ apartment three times in six days.
Crews originally told the police that Greywind had her child. Crew later told the police she had argued, saying they pushed Greywind down and knocked her out for cutting her open. Froloff testified Monday that there was no evidence of any injury to the head to Greywind.
Crew is expected to testify this week.
Greywind’s death prompted North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to introduce Savanna’s Act, which aims to improve tribal access to federal crime information databases and the creation of standardized protocols for responding to cases of missing and slain indigenous women . A similar bill has been introduced in the House.