MIAMI – A medical examiner testified Wednesday that a young woman was possibly cowering on her knees and not throwing punches when she was fatally shot by her husband, who later posted a photo of her body on Facebook and claims self-defense.
Miami-Dade's chief deputy medical examiner, Dr. Emma Lew, told a jury that based on the wounds, 27-year-old Jennifer Alfonso also probably wasn't fighting with 33-year-old Derek Medina before she died. Medina told police in a statement that Alfonso threatened him with a knife and was beating and shoving him in their kitchen.
Alfonso had several defensive bullet wounds on her left forearm and all of the eight shots struck her upper torso or jaw area, Lew testified. And, she added, the angle of the bullet pathways all indicate they were fired from above her.
"Based on your training and experience, is this consistent with Jennifer being on her knees?" asked Assistant State Attorney Leah Klein.
"Yes it is. The physical evidence supports it," Lew responded, adding that the wounds on Alfonso's arm would have made it impossible to strike someone as Medina contends she did even after being shot.
"She wouldn't have been able to use her left hand," Lew said.
Later, during cross-examination by defense attorney Mauricio Padilla, Lew said she could not definitively conclude that Alfonso was on her knees when she was shot despite that physical evidence.
Lew was the final state witness as the prosecution rested its main case later in the day. The defense then began putting on its witnesses, although it's not clear if Medina would be testifying. The jury did see a videotaped confession Medina gave to police in which he admits killing his wife but claims self-defense.
Defense attorney Saam Zangeneh told jurors he would show Medina suffered from "battered spouse syndrome" and that enhanced surveillance video from inside the house shows Alfonso attacked her husband with a knife.
"At the end of the day, in that little kitchen, if she had the knife and was attacking him, it's got to be self-defense," he said.
Medina faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder in the 2013 slaying. He told police in the confession that he posted the Facebook photo of Alfonso's bloody body to show family what he did and explain that his wife had battered him repeatedly during their marriage.
Trial testimony showed the photo was posted on the Facebook pages of both Medina and Alfonso for several hours before it was taken down.
Also likely to surface in the defense portion of the case is evidence that Alfonso abused drugs and alcohol and possibly dabbled in some form of Satan worship. Medina's attorneys may attempt to call Alfonso's daughter, who was 10 when her mother was killed, to testify about the couple's stormy relationship.
Medina is also charged with illegal discharge of a weapon inside a house and with child neglect because the young girl was in the home when the shooting took place, although she did not witness it. Authorities said the child was in an upstairs bedroom at the time.
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