Doctor says it was 'miraculous' Wake County woman survived attack

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LaTonya Allen testifying in court (WTVD)

A trauma surgeon testified Thursday in the death penalty trial of a Wake County man accused of murdering his in-laws and beating and shooting his ex-wife.

Dr. Lori Lilley said in 2014 Nathan Holden's ex-wife Latonya Allen survived a gunshot to the face because a tooth deflected the bullet. A second shot pierced her chest, heart, stomach, liver and narrowly missed her spine.

"...and for her to have injured part of a heart wall and not through the heart wall was pretty miraculous," Lilley offered.

The couple's three children were huddled in a closet a few feet away. But eight days after Allen arrived at WakeMed she announced she told doctors she was going to attend her parent's funeral.

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"So we pulled out her chest tube at four in the morning, I specifically remember this, got a chest x-ray at 10 and it looked okay. And she left the hospital in a wheelchair with her liver drains in because her parent's funeral I think was at 12 that day. And I remember thinking that I couldn't even believe she was doing that," Lilley recalled.

Also Thursday, a Wake County detective testified about speaking to the couple's oldest son after the shootings.

"He had heard his mother to continue to yell, 'Stop, stop, stop. I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry,'" said Sergeant Mark Szanjnberg.

RELATED: 2 dead in Wake County triple shooting near Wendell

Nathan Holden's defense attorney told the jury during opening statements Tuesday that Holden did indeed shoot Allen and fatally shot Allen's parents, 57-year-old Angelia Smith Taylor and 66-year-old Sylvester Taylor more than two years ago.

RELATED: Trial underway for Wake County man accused of killing in-laws

The defense team is concentrating on keeping Holden off death row if it can.

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