All but one charge dropped in West Campus murder case

Bryan Canchola in court on Oct. 20, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Paul Shelton)
Bryan Canchola in court on Oct. 20, 2017 (KXAN Photo/Paul Shelton)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — All but one charge in a 2015 West Campus murder trial have been dropped. Bryan Canchola, 22, now only faces an aggravated assault charge in the death of his then-boyfriend Stephen Sylvester.

The murder, manslaughter and aggravated assault with serious bodily injury charges were all dropped Monday.

Earlier in the day the judge presiding over the trial reversed his decision regarding whether the medical examiner’s testimony could be used. In a Friday hearing, Judge David Wahlberg said Dr. Sam Andrews’ testimony would be admissible. On Monday, Wahlberg reversed course and said the jury will not be allowed to hear what Dr. Andrews has to say.

Canchola’s trial began its second week Monday.

Dr. Andrews, who works for the Travis County Medical Examiner’s Office, performed the victim’s autopsy. He said he altered his findings last Wednesday after taking a closer look at Sylvester’s records.

He found the location of a rupture in part of Sylvester’s brain had changed, so he said he notified the state and then the defense. He said the change does not alter his opinion of how Sylvester died — likely because of a blunt force injury to a major artery.

The defense presented its own experts, who offered other explanations for what could have caused the brain hemorrhage.

On Friday Judge Wahlberg said Dr. Andrews did not use best practices when performing the autopsy. At the time, he said he would allow the testimony, but also said he could limit it.

Closing arguments in the case are expected early this week. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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