Victim's family testifies in stiletto stabbing case

2014-04-10 12:56
Ana Trujillo stands just before being taken from the courtroom and into custody, after being found guilty of murder in Houston. (File, AP)

Ana Trujillo stands just before being taken from the courtroom and into custody, after being found guilty of murder in Houston. (File, AP)

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Houston - Jurors deciding the sentence for a woman convicted of murder for stabbing her boyfriend to death with her shoe's stiletto heel heard testimony on Wednesday about her criminal history and violent past, including how she allegedly assaulted a former friend with a candlestick.

They also heard from family and friends of the victim, Alf Stefan Andersson, who described him as kind and gracious, and not aggressive, and who said they were still trying to comprehend his violent death.

Ana Trujillo was convicted Tuesday of striking Andersson, aged 59, at least 25 times in the face with the 14cm heel of her shoe during an argument last June at his Houston condominium.

Defence attorneys argued that Trujillo, aged 45, was defending herself from an attack by Andersson, who was a University of Houston professor and researcher. She faces up to life in prison.

Prosecutors presented 19 witnesses during the trial's punishment phase, which began on Wednesday and was set to resume on Thursday.

Most of the witnesses detailed Trujillo's criminal history or firsthand experiences they had with Trujillo in which she became violent toward them when she drank.

Several police officers told jurors Trujillo was arrested twice for drunken driving, once in 2008 and again in 2010. In one of the incidents she was found driving the wrong way on a Houston freeway. One of the drunken-driving charges was later dropped while she was convicted of the other.

‘Not a monster’

Earlier in the trial, witnesses testified that Trujillo had been drinking on the night of Andersson's killing. But authorities testified that Trujillo's blood alcohol level wasn't tested after her arrest.

Brian Goodney, a former friend of Trujillo, told jurors that she was with him at his apartment after a dinner party in 2009 when "out of nowhere", she hit him in the back of the head with a candlestick.

"I fell on the floor. I was completely knocked out," Goodney said, adding that when he awoke, Trujillo was sitting on the floor staring at him. Goodney said Trujillo then got up and left his apartment. He didn't press charges.

James Jimenez, a former security guard at a downtown Houston building where Trujillo had a massage business, testified that when he escorted her from the building one night in 2011 because she didn't have permission to be inside, she attacked him, grabbing his hair and pulling him to the ground. She was arrested for public intoxication as a result.

In stark contrast, Andersson's family and friends told jurors about how he was a good person who wouldn't hesitate to help anyone. His sister, Marie Andersson Bremberg, said she is still trying to understand what happened to her brother, who was from Sweden but became a US citizen.

"It's so hard to believe he's dead and the way he died and the violence. I don't understand it. It's a nightmare," Bremberg tearfully said.

Trujillo cried as Bremberg and other family members and friends of Andersson testified.

The first witness defence attorneys presented, Julia Babcock, a psychologist who examined Trujillo, testified Trujillo had been in a series of violent or abusive relationships, including with Andersson. Babcock said Trujillo "was acting in self-defence ... and she overreacted in part to her past abusive history".

When questioned by prosecutor Sarah Mickelson, Babcock told jurors that she based most of her opinion on information provided by Trujillo.

Mickelson later suggested that Andersson was the one being abused, saying he had twice barred Trujillo from his condo and changed his locks.

Trujillo's attorney, Jack Carroll, said outside court that Trujillo's family will also testify on her behalf and that Trujillo would probably testify. She didn't testify before being convicted.

"My strategy is I'm going to ... humanise Ana to the jury. I think the jury will hopefully understand that Ana is not a monster," he said.
- AP
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