Medical Examiner Grilled in Agababa Murder Trial


Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola is grilled on the stand in the Agababa murder trial.

Guam – Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola says it was definitely a single blow to the head that killed Shelly Bernstein, but the defense had other theories in the Agababa murder trial as they grilled Dr. Espinola for an intense hour.

It was not the presence of drugs in her system, a fall or a gunshot wound that killed Shelly Bernstein. According to Medical Examiner Dr. Aurelio Espinola, it was a single blow to the forehead, right above her right eyebrow. That single blow to the head, prosecutors believe, was done by Bernstein’s son, Allan Agababa. But Defense Attorney Jeff Moots had other theories, especially since Dr. Espinola could not pinpoint the exact object that was used to smash Bernstein’s head. 

Moots: “But if I fall forward and strike my head here and then catch myself, I’m not gonna hit the prominent portion …”

Espinola: “But if you tell me that you fall on the table I will see the mark on the table or mark on your face.”

Moots: “That’s if I tell you that’s where I fell.”

Espinola: “Well even if you don’t tell me, it will show me by looking at the injury, I can tell you where you fall … if this person fell you will see abrasion in this area.”


Attorney Moots also grilled Dr. Espinola on the substantial amount of medication found in Bernstein’s system, oxycodon, hydrocodon, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, fentanyl and benzodiazepines, none of which, however, contributed to Bernstein’s death even if some were found in large doses. 

“We are talking about a non normal person. Meaning to say that this person has been using this medication for a long time so her resistance or tolerance to this kind of medication are very high. So it could be overdose for me but not for her,” argued Dr. Espinola. 

“Do you know what her prescribed dose was for each of these?” asked Moots, which Espinola acknowledged he did not know.

“But I read the chart, she had been taking this medication for a long time,” Espinola pointed out. 


Trial continues on Wednesday at 10 am.