Court told pair died from stab wounds

THE state's forensic pathologist says a couple found in a smouldering Ravenswood unit last year died from stab wounds. 

Dr Donald Ritchie detailed the wounds of Angela Hallam and Joshua Newman on the second day of a preliminary proceeding in the Launceston Magistrates Court yesterday.

The court heard both had ``large gaping wounds'' to the their necks and other stab wounds, which Dr Ritchie said were probably caused by a knife. 

``Whatever it was, was very sharp,'' he told Crown prosecutor John Ransom. 

The autopsies on the couple, who were discovered dead in Ms Hallam's Pioneer Parade unit on August 15, 2012, found both bodies had been burnt.

Dr Ritchie said he found soot in Mr Newman's airways indicating he may have been breathing when the fire was lit.

Under cross-examination, Dr Ritchie conceded errors in his reports regarding the weight of the dead couple's vital organs but this did not alter his conclusions. 

Former Rocherlea man Marco Daniel Rusterholz, 49, who appeared in court yesterday, has pleaded not guilty to murdering the couple.

His co-accused, David Ronald Morgan, 55, of South Australia, has pleaded not guilty to a single charge of conspiring to kill Ms Hallam. 

A teenage witness told the court yesterday that she'd overheard a ``price' being placed on Ms Hallam's head because she owed people money.  

Launceston's Detective Senior Sergeant Paul Turner said he'd heard Ms Hallam had relocated from Hobart to Launceston because she owed a drug debt and wanted to make a fresh start. 

Sally Ann McGuire said Mr Rusterholz attended a party at her Derwent Park home the night of the alleged murder. 

In a second statement to police Ms McGuire claimed Mr Rusterholz, her then partner, showed her a strand of Ms Hallam's hair and claimed to have killed her. 

His lawyer, Evan Hughes, asked Ms McGuire why she'd failed to include that in her first police statement, to which she replied she was too scared. 

Ms McGuire said police had not offered to help her in relation to pending drugs charges for her co-operation in the case.

The proceeding continues today.  

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