8:39 AM PDT, September 6, 2012
A forensic pathologist testified in Christopher Vaughn's murder trial today that Vaughn's wife was taking two medications that have been known to cause increased risk of suicidal thoughts and side effects including confusion or agitation.
The testimony, which came during cross-examination of Dr. Larry Blum, is at the heart of the defense's case that Vaughn's wife, Kimberly, was distraught over problems in their marriage and killed their children, shot and wounded her husband and then killed herself
Vaughn's attorney, George Lenard, asked Blum about an anti-anxiety drug sold under the brand name Topamax and another that is a popular treatment for migraine headaches. Blum said he was aware that both drugs found in the wife’s system carried FDA warnings of side effects.
"I believe they are warnings to doctors who prescribe this to their patients that there may be increased risk of suicide in people that start the medication...and they should perhaps counsel their patients who use (them)," Blum said.
Blum testified that because tissue samples were not taken, he could not determine specifically the levels of either drug in her system at the time of her death.
He also said there was no indication Kimberly Vaughn was depressed. That would have raised more red flags of possible suicidal thoughts.
Blum, who analyzed police reports and the results of autopsies in the case, testified Wednesday that he could not determine from the gunshot wound below Kimberly Vaughn's chin whether she had shot herself or been shot by someone else. The couple's three children -- ages 8 to 12 -- were each shot twice from no more than two feet away.
Christopher Vaughn, 37, is on trial on charges he killed his wife and three children after pulling their SUV onto a frontage road near Channahon in June 2007 during what he said was a surprise trip to a Springfield water park. Prosecutors have alleged that the Oswego father killed his family so he could move to the Canadian wilderness.
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