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Prosecutors say Thompson used car jack as murder weapon

Jurors in the trail of double homicide suspect Robert Thompson got their first look Friday at the object prosecutors say was used to kill 12-year old Jodi Ragsdale and 15-year-old Sheila Carter -- a long, metal car jack.

Meanwhile, a forensic pathologist testified in support of prosecutor's contention that the car jack is the murder weapon that was used to bludgeon the Atwater girls to death. Members of Carter's family wept as a sheriff's investigator, wearing latex gloves, removed the car jack, about two feet long, from a large manila envelope.

Ruth Kohlmeier, a Texas-based forensic pathologist, testified the wounds suffered by Ragsdale and Carter were consistent with those that would have been rendered by a car jack, based on ridge-like pattern of the girls' wounds. She also said the girl's wounds had a repeating pattern of parallel marks, lacerations contusions which were consistent with the grooves on the car jack. She said their deaths were likely caused by blunt force injuries.

"This is a very, very heavy weapon. It's not a baseball bat, it's irregular," Kohlmeier said, pointing to photos of the girls' wounds.

Kohlmeier estimated that Ragsdale and Carter were killed between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m. on Dec. 13, 1986. The Merced County Sheriff's Department received a call from a passerby who had seen their bodies at 9:31 a.m. that day.

For more about this story, read Saturday's Merced Sun-Star.