WINDSOR, ONT. -- An emotional day in a Windsor courtroom where a manslaughter trial related to the death of a former Lakeshore district fire chief began.

On Monday, Michael Hiller sat before Justice Renee Pomerance in Windsor’s Superior Court as his judge-only trial, to answer for charges of manslaughter and assault, got underway. Hiller is charged in the death of Joe St. Louis, the former District 3 chief in Lakeshore, in 2018.

The first expert witness to testify was Dr. Edward Tweedie, the pathologist who performed the autopsy on St. Louis.

Court heard Tweedie determined St. Louis died as a result of “significant neck compression” which led to cardiac arrest which cut off blood and oxygen to his brain, resulting in irreparable brain damage.

One woman in the courtroom was so visibly upset during Tweedie’s testimony, she left the room in tears.

Tweedie also noted in his testimony that St. Louis had no blood circulation for at least 25 minutes, which he said was more than enough time to cause significant brain damage.

Defence lawyer Evan Weber enquired about the possibility of plaque found in St. Louis’ coronary arteries as a possible cause of the former firefighter’s heart stopping, but Tweedie said St. Louis only had a “mild burden” of coronary artery disease that was unlikely to cause cardiac arrest.

The trial stems from an incident on March 24, 2018, when Windsor police were called to the 1900 block of Daytona Avenue at 3:15 a.m. for reports of an altercation. It’s at a home on the street where St. Louis was found unconscious.

He would die five days later, on March 29, after being removed from life support.

Hiller, 43 years old at the time, was initially charged with aggravated assault and assault in connection with the incident on Daytona Avenue. Police would later upgrade one of his charges to manslaughter.

Hiller has been free on bail since April 2018.

The trial is scheduled to continue on Tuesday.