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Autopsies show Bills and Hill were murdered, witnesses say

News Photo by Steve Schulwitz Defense attorney Devin Pommerenke, left, sits next to his client Brad Srebnik in court on Tuesday. Srebnik is accused of two counts of premeditated murder in the deaths of Brynn Bills and Abby Hill.

ALPENA — The pathologists who conducted autopsies on the remains of Brynn Bills and Abby Hill told the court on Tuesday in their professional opinion, the women were murdered.

The testimony came during day two of the preliminary examination for Brad Srebnik and Joshua Wirgau who are accused of murdering the women in the summer of 2021.

Srebnik faces two counts of premeditated murder, weapons charges, and disinterment and mutilation of a body, while Wirgau faces one count of premeditated murder, disinterment, weapons charges, and a count of accessory after the fact to a felony in the deaths of Hill and Bills.

A preliminary examination is a series of hearings for a judge to determine if there is enough evidence in a case to bind it over to circuit court for trial.

Both men are currently in prison on unrelated charges.

Forensic Pathologist Joyce DeYoung said bruising and other injuries to Bills indicate she was strangled to death, while Fisher Hubbard, who has the same title, concluded Hill died from a single gunshot wound to the back of the head.

Both DeYoung and Hubbard said by the time they conducted their tests, the bodies were badly decomposed.

DeYoung said Bills’ body had severe bruising around her throat and neck area on the exterior, and hemorrhaging in the same areas internally. There was also burning that is believed to be charred cardboard that was found in her grave and skin loss because of the decomposing process.

Hubbard said Hill was shot in the back of her head and the bullet exited from her face and that when her body was discovered, her head and hair were separated from her body. Hubbard was able to retrieve what she said were bullet fragments of various sizes.

The prosecution is trying to prove those bullet fragments match a gun that was reconstructed from parts found in three rivers in the Alpena area.

Earlier during the hearing, Ken Polhemus, a firearm examiner for the Michigan State Police said he took the fragments and tried to get some test shots with them in a 9 mm pistol that was reconstructed from the disregarded parts that prosecutors hope to link to Hill’s murder. “I was able to put it all together and have a functioning firearm and actually be able to fire it,” he said.

Both Bills and Hill had drugs in their system, including cocaine, marijuana, and meth after a toxicology report was done, and defense attorney Patrick Cherry began to question DeYoung and Hubbard about the possibility of an overdose, or that side effects could have caused a violent reaction by Bills that caused the injuries and death, or force someone to subdue her in a stranglehold.

Both witnesses said it was unlikely, but did not rule out the possibility and continued to maintain the claim that Bills and Hill were killed.

Bills was reported missing in August of 2021 and her remains were eventually discovered buried in the backyard of Wigau’s house. Hill’s body was found in a remote wooded area owned by Lafarge in October 2021.

The preliminary examination will continue in 88th District Court today at 8:30 a.m., but it will be held in the 26th Circuit Court Room across the street.

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