MAYVILLE – The bullet that killed Clymer Central School Superintendent Keith L. Reed last September ripped through his lungs and heart before exiting his chest.
The barrel of the gun was pressed against Reed’s back.
Reed’s death certificate lists multiple gunshots as the cause of death, but the medical examiner who performed the autopsy testified Wednesday that just one of the shots likely killed him.
“It entered the chest cavity and struck multiple vital organs, including both lungs, the heart, the aorta and the liver,” Dr. Diane Vertes said during the second day of testimony in the murder trial of Anthony R. “Rob” Taglianetti.
Vertes, the former chief medical examiner for Erie County, conducted the autopsy on Sept. 25, 2012.
She said Reed would have been able to survive the two other gunshot wounds.
The non-lethal shots, one in the chest and the other in the upper back and shoulder, did not hit vital organs.
All three shots came at close range, and the one that killed Reed left what Vertes called a “muzzle imprint” of soot and metal filings on his skin.
The other shot in the back also appeared to leave a muzzle imprint, although it was less prominent, she said.
The shot to the chest passed under Reed’s skin at an angle and exited the other side of his chest, causing only superficial wounds, Vertes said.
Vertes testified for about three hours and 45 minutes. She followed Chautauqua County Coroner James Jackson, who testified for two hours, primarily about his analysis of Reed’s body when it was discovered in a hedgerow near his Clymer home.
Taglianetti allegedly shot Reed on the night of Sept. 21. His body was found three days later, about 150 feet from his home.
Reed, 51, was wearing a long-sleeved blue shirt, yellow tie and grayish pants at the time of his death, although he was not wearing shoes, said Jackson, who was called to the Reed home on Clymer Sherman Road at 10:36 a.m. on Sept. 24.
Jackson pronounced Reed dead at 10:55 a.m. He said a small caliber gun was used.
Jurors looked at photographs of Reed’s body where it was found, as well as photographs and autopsy diagrams of the bullet wounds. They also got a close look at Reed’s blood-stained T-shirt and dress shirt.
Taglianetti, a former Marine, is accused of driving 350 miles from his Woodbridge, Va., home to Clymer to kill Reed, who had a brief affair with Taglianetti’s wife, Mary, two years earlier and had recently resumed online communication with her.
At one point during Wednesday’s testimony, Taglianetti, 43, rose from his chair with a yellow legal pad and walked across the courtroom with his lawyer, Nathaniel Barone, for a better view of an autopsy diagram displayed on a video monitor.
Both Chautauqua County District Attorney David W. Foley and Barone tried to get Vertes to provide an approximate time of death for Reed, who was last seen alive the evening of Sept. 21.
Reed’s friends and colleagues reported him missing on Sept. 23, after he failed to respond to phone calls and did not show up at a conference in Saratoga Springs. Vertes said she could not pin down a time of death. Reed’s body had “early decomposition,” she said.
Barone objected to many of the photos offered as evidence, but Chautauqua County Judge John T. Ward admitted them.
Chautauqua Correspondent Susan Chiappone contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org