Thursday, October 1, 2009
A crime scene police detective and a forensic biologist testified on Tuesday about bloody evidence entered into the court record, in the ongoing criminal trial against New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate. Monserrate faces charges of felony assault in an alleged attack on his girlfriend Karla Giraldo.
The prosecution has asserted that when Monserrate discovered that his girlfriend had the business card of another man, he chose to strike out at her. Monserrate has entered a plea of not guilty to charges he sliced his girlfriend’s face with broken glass during a conflict at their apartment on December 19, 2008. The defense team denied that the injury to the woman by Monserrate was intentional, instead claiming that the incident was “an accident” and the result of Monserrate tripping while bringing Giraldo a glass of water.
An emergency physician that had treated Giraldo stated in court last Thursday that Monserrate’s girlfriend asserted to her that her injuries were not the result of an accident. Though the defense has argued that Giraldo, who is from Ecuador, may have been difficult to understand – the physician stated she conversed with Monserrate’s girlfriend in both Spanish and in English.
|…it is nothing more than rank speculation.|
The police detective that first inspected the crime scene testified Tuesday to the court about his recollection of discovering broken glass at the apartment, along with blood, towels covered in blood, and a ripped women’s t-shirt. Prosecutors entered into evidence a ripped sleeveless undershirt that police had found in the garbage outside Monserrate’s apartment on the night of the alleged attack. Bloody towels were was also found at the crime scene in the bathroom, and bloody smudges were discovered on a light switch in the bedroom.
According to forensic biologist Ewilina Badja, the majority of the blood found at the scene originated from one woman. Prosecutors assert that this woman is Giraldo, who was treated for injuries surrounding her left eye that took approximately 40 stitches to remedy. Badja identified blood on a male green shirt found in the bathroom sink as that of Monserrate.
Joseph Tacopina, defense counsel for Monserrate, argued that the police detective’s testimony does not prove his client attacked Giraldo. NY1 reported that Tacopina stated: “There’s not a piece of evidence that supports there was a scuffle where someone tore someone’s clothing, so it is nothing more than rank speculation. It was not a blood drenched t-shirt. When it was torn who knows? I have in my closet right now torn T-shirts that I wear to bed every night.”
On cross-examination, Tacopina queried New York City Police Department crime scene analyst Detective David Hernandez regarding the blood discovered on the bedroom light switch. According to Hernandez, police did not evaluate the blood on the light switch; Hernandez also stated that the lights in the apartment were found turned on. Tacopina argued that this bolsters the story provided by defense – that his client stumbled in a dark room while attempted to bring water to his girlfriend, and placed his bloody hand on the light switch after accidentally breaking the drinking glass on Giraldo’s face.
Queens Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum will judge the case without a jury, as Monserrate waived his right for a trial before his peers. The group National Organization for Women has requested that the judge rule Monserrate should be given “the maximum sentence allowable by law”. If convicted, Democrat Sen. Monserrate could serve seven years in prison and lose his New York State Senate seat.
Monserrate is a former city councilman. He became a member of the New York State Senate weeks after the alleged conflict with Giraldo, and was made chair of the committee overseeing consumer affairs. Along with Democrat Pedro Espada Jr., Monserrate started a shift in control of the Senate by aligning with the Republican Party.