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YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — Calling it a “challenging” autopsy, the military’s Pacific medical examiner testified Tuesday that two blows to the head caused the death of a U.S. Army major’s wife last year.

In the murder trial of Maj. Richard K. Hart, Navy Capt. Stephen Robinson said that Hart’s wife, Patricia Ann, died from hemorrhaging in her head. But that conclusion wasn’t easy, he said, and he and other medical examiners pondered other face and body wounds to determine whether they happened before or after death.

Hart’s attorneys have told the court their expert pathologist will testify that Patricia Hart died from a sinus arrhythmia rather than a beating, a conclusion reached in part from medical records unavailable to the prosecution or defense until last month.

When questioned by Gary Myers, one of Hart’s attorneys, Robinson said he didn’t notice any abnormalities in the woman’s heart, adding that her death and injuries were inconsistent with those tied to natural causes.

He performed an autopsy on the 53-year-old woman Aug. 13 at the Yongsan Garrison mortuary.

After a fight in their Itaewon apartment the night of Aug. 8, Hart said Monday in court, he slapped his wife and she fell down. He returned that night to find her dead. In the early morning of Aug. 12, he threw her body off the Yongjong Bridge leading to Incheon International Airport.

Her naked, plastic-wrapped body fell about 80 feet, landing in a fairly dry area below the bridge. In graphic autopsy photos shown in court Tuesday, Robinson detailed lacerations, contusions and bruises on Patricia Hart’s body.

Robinson ruled the death a homicide, but Lt. Col. Edward O’Brien, the trial judge, rejected that testimony, citing recent case law barring medical experts from stating opinions in court on causes of death.

When Myers asked if it’s true no one knows what happened the night of the incident, Robinson answered, “As far as the aggressor? No.” Robinson said the final autopsy report was incorrect about injuries to Patricia Hart’s nose, partially due to conflicting conclusions from medical personnel.

Hart is charged with murder and aggravated assault. He pleaded guilty Monday to a lesser charge of assault, and to obstructing justice and disobeying a direct order.

But prosecutors are pursuing the more serious charges against him. They also contend he assaulted his daughter in 2002 and his wife in 2000, punching or slapping them in separate incidents.

In other testimony, Criminal Investigation Command special agents Roger Jones and Brian Coyt detailed a conversation with Hart after South Korean authorities arrested him on Aug. 12. Hart — at times both sarcastic and in tears — admitted to striking his wife and hearing a snap.

Jones testified that Hart would not make a written statement but spoke freely about the altercation, saying his wife started it by hitting him in the face when he was asleep — but Hart also allegedly said, “I wouldn’t say this is self-defense.”

Hart went on to say the incident was his fault, that he had numerous extramarital affairs and his actions had driven his wife insane, Jones testified. After Myers asked him why he didn’t videotape or record the interview, Jones said agents don’t tape such sessions unless the person being questioned is a child.

Hart’s 20-year-old daughter, Allison, testified there were so many violent incidents in their home that she “can’t remember all of them.” She outlined times when she hit her mother, her mother hit her and her father beat both of them.

“He hit me with a closed fist and broke my nose,” Allison Hart said, referring to a December 2002 argument with her father over a missing cell phone.

In 1998 in Fort Polk, La., she testified, her father hit her mother in the face with a glass, embedding a chunk in her forehead. Patricia Hart had her daughter photograph her with a current newspaper to document the violence, Allison Hart said.

She described her mother as “broken” after discovering photos of a South Korean woman with whom her father was allegedly having an affair. “We had to put her in a mental hospital,” the daughter said.

After her husband got orders for a second tour in South Korea, Patricia Hart planned to spend six months with her husband, arriving in July 2003, the daughter testified, saying, “She wanted to support my dad.”

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