Lehigh Valley

Health of victim Carrie Smith called into question in homicide trial

Her granddaughter, Rebecca Johnson, is on trial for her death

Woman's health questioned in heart attack murder trial

EASTON, Pa. - It's the question at the heart of a homicide trial in Northampton County: Did a robbery induce a heart attack that killed an elderly Wilson woman?

The woman's granddaughter and the granddaughter's boyfriend are on trial for allegedly orchestrating that robbery.

Testimony Wednesday primarily focused on the health of Carrie Smith.

Doctors say she had heart and lung disease and the robbery could have contributed to her death.

A doctor specializing in pulmonary medicine says Carrie Smith, 76, could have died from Broken Heart Syndrome -- a weakening of the heart caused by stress.

Smith died two months after she was robbed at gunpoint inside her Wilson borough home in January of 2012.

Prosecutors say her granddaughter, Rebecca Johnson, Johnson's boyfriend Rogel Suero and two other men allegedly plotted and executed the robbery.

Doctor Michael Nekoranik told jurors Smith was previously diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis -- a disease that causes scarring of the lungs and shortness of breath.

He testified Smith had a history of heart disease and was being treated for depression.

Nekoranik testified the stress of the robbery could have impacted Smith's health temporarily, but that it would be difficult to prove Broken Heart Syndrome was the ultimate cause of death.

The night of the robbery, Smith was brought to Easton hospital with chest pains, shortness of breath and elevated enzymes in her blood  -- an indication she was having a heart attack.

The prosecution is trying to convince jurors that Johnson and Suero are responsible for
Smith's heart attack and premature death.

Both Johnson and Suero say they had nothing to do with the robbery, despite one witness's claim he was with them when they did it.

Several of Johnson's friends also testified she was talking about robbing her grandmother in the days leading up to the incident.

The defense says Rogel Suero will testify.

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