Prosecutors presented the evidence they hope will win a first-degree murder conviction of Julio Blanco Garcia in the 2010 death of a 19-year-old college student from Fairfax.
Several of Vanessa Pham's relatives dabbed at tears as the prosecution's first witness Tuesday, the medical examiner who performed Pham's autopsy, described what he called a brutal attack.
Medical examiner Dr. A. Wayne Williams said he "noticed numerous sharp, force injuries," which he added were both stab wounds and incise wounds, Northern Virginia Bureau Chief Julie Carey reported.
Williams told the court a single-edged knife caused the stab wounds that killed Pham, adding six stab wounds were found in one lung alone.
"The cause of death was stab wounds of neck and chest," he said.
Police have said the murder weapon was a kitchen knife, which jurors saw for the first time Tuesday. The handle had separated from the blade, and both pieces were bloody.
The medical examiner said Pham was alive when the wounds were inflicted and felt great pain.
During their cross-examination, lawyers for Blanco Garcia underscored the fact that there was no evidence of a sexual assault and suggested Pham may have passed out during the attack. The defense also seemed to suggest the victim caused some of the wounds -- many on her hands -- by fighting the attack, grabbing the knife with both hands.
More tears from Pham's relatives followed as a detective showed jurors holes made in the victim's blood-soaked T-shirt by the killer's knife, Carey reported.
Blanco Garcia looked away from his attorney's laptops as photos of the blood-splattered car were shown.
"The most important thing that I found or that I noted was the amount of blood that was inside that car," Detective Derek Hardy said.
The defense claims Blanco Garcia was high on PCP and didn't plan to kill Pham. They claimed he panicked when he asked Pham for a ride to the hospital, with his baby daughter in his arms, and she drove the wrong way.
But prosecutors argued that the killing was premeditated.
Blanco Garcia has pleaded not guilty to Pham's murder. The teen was found stabbed to death inside her car in a ditch near the Fairfax Plaza shopping center in the Merrifield area June 27, 2010.
Authorities say Blanco Garcia stabbed her more than a dozen times, causing her to run off the road, before fleeing with his daughter through the sunroof. Tuesday, a detective showed blood on the sunroof switch and the sunroof itself.
Police found a baby bottle in Pham's car and believe her killer left it there. A friend who was with Pham on the day of her death testified that she didn't see the bottle in the car.
Police also found two diaper cloths in the car: One clean in the back and one up front bloodied from Pham's wounds.
The defendant's confession is expected to be played in court Wednesday.
Blanco Garcia was arrested in December 2012 after fingerprints linked him to the car. As News4 exclusively reported, prosecutors say that DNA evidence found on a knife connects Blanco Garcia to the murder.
PREVIOUS COVERAGE ON NBCWashington.com:
- Lawyers: Defendant Didn't Plan to Kill Vanessa Pham
- Prosecutors: Vanessa Pham's Good Deed Led to Her Death
- DNA Evidence in Vanessa Pham Murder Case Revealed