Witness: Possibly Two Assailants In Newlywed Murder Case
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South Florida Crime
MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Defense continued on Friday in the trial of a man accused of killing his new bride in order to collect a million dollar life insurance policy.
Michel Escoto, who is representing himself, is accused of killing his wife, Wendy Trapaga, just four days after they got married.
On Friday, famed forensic pathologist Dr. Werner Spitz testified as an expert witness. Spitz investigated the Martin Luther King death and testified in the Casey Anthony case.
Spitz said that based on the injuries sustained by Trapaga, two assailants could have been involved.
“It is my opinion that because of the number of different types of injuries that the deceased had and their extent….that more than one assailant was involved in this instance,” said Spitz.
He added, Trapaga’s skull would have been fractured into little pieces if a tire-iron had been used in her murder. Spitz even used a skull model to demonstrate how the jaw and the skull would have been impacted by the force of a tire iron.
“A tire iron such as this would break the skull into little pieces,” he testified. He added there was no evidence that Trapaga had a fractured skull.
Prosecutors responded to his testimony by questioning his credibility. Assistant State Attorney Gail Levine alleged he got fired in Detroit after he was investigated for allegedly selling body parts back in 1976.
“You were fired because you had an incident where you were accused of illegally selling body parts. Right,” said Levine.
“I never got fired,” said Spitz. “Please do not use that term because I get a retirement check.”
“You were asked to leave,” asked Levine.
“No, I was not asked to leave,” responded Spitz.
Levine then accused Spitz of being attracted to the spotlight, alleging that he was being paid $5,000 for his testimony.
“How much money have you been paid,” asked Levine.
“To this day I have not been paid anything,” said Spitz.
“The last time you were paid $5,000 a day by the state of Florida, they disputed your bill,” asked Levine.
“They paid me one third of my bill,” said Spitz.
“You like cameras don’t you,” asked Levine. After an objection, she asked Spitz, “You like to testify in high profile cases?”
“Aye,” said Spitz.
Late Friday afternoon, a pharmacology expert testified that Trapaga had alcolol and oxycode in her system at the time of her death.
Trapaga was beaten, drugged and strangled. Her body was discovered in a warehouse in Northwest Miami-Dade in 2002. Escoto was not charged in this case until 2005.
On Tuesday, Escoto called his ex-girlfriend,Yolanda Cerillo, to the witness stand.
Cerillo’s testimony was combative, even hostile at times. She previously testified for the prosecution that she and Escoto plotted to kill his wife.
One fiery exchange between the two dealt with a bag of bloody clothes and shoes Cerrillo claims Escoto gave her after the murder.
“You have no idea what the shoes look like,” Escoto asked.
“Regular shoes,” responded Cerrillo.
“Like these,” continued Escoto.
“Could be,” said Cerrillo. “I don’t know. There are many styles.”
Escoto also tried to discredit Cerrillo’s testimony that she saw him looking disheveled after he bathed in the ocean after the murder.
Escoto appeared frustrated in court, not only because of Cerrillo’s combativeness, but also because he was repeatedly interrupted by the prosecutor. The judge also asked him to rephrase his questions on several occasions.
Escoto is expected to take the stand Monday The trial could wrap up next week.
If Escoto is convicted of first degree murder charges in this case, he could face life in prison.