Ana Trujillo took the witness stand for the first time in the two-week trial as part of the penalty phase, which will decide her sentence.
HOUSTON (AP) – A Houston woman convicted of fatally stabbing her boyfriend with a 5½-inch stiletto heel told jurors Thursday that she killed him to save her own life during a lengthy fight in which she was chased down, knocked into a wall and thrown over a couch.
Ana Trujillo took the witness stand for the first time in the two-week trial as part of the penalty phase, which will decide her sentence. During about seven hours of rambling testimony, Trujillo said she had been repeatedly abused by men and sexual assaulted.
The jury convicted Trujillo on Tuesday of murder in last June's killing of her boyfriend, 59-year-old Alf Stefan Andersson, at his home after the couple had gone out drinking. Prosecutors say she pinned him down and stabbed him at least 25 times with the heel of her shoe. Trujillo and her lawyers said she acted in self-defense.
Jurors were expected to begin deciding her sentence after closing arguments on Friday.
Trujillo told jurors that Andersson became enraged when he thought she was going to leave him and she fought for her life during a fight that lasted more than an hour. Trujillo said there were pauses during the fight in which she would try to calm him down, but at the end Andersson started yelling at her. She said Andersson was a heavy drinker.
"I did fear for my life. I felt he lost it," she said.
She said she started striking him with the shoe anywhere she could.
"Why did you keep on hitting him?" her attorney Jack Carroll asked.
"He wouldn't let go of my leg. The pain wouldn't stop," she said.
Trujillo said that at first she hit him on his back and on his arms, then on his head as a last resort.
"I had no idea I was hurting him that badly," she said. "I reached over and my hands were full of blood."
When he questioned Trujillo, prosecutor John Jordan told jurors that all the evidence pointed to Trujillo and not Andersson being prone to violence.
"To take a shoe and to literally beat someone to death, that's a different type of crime," he said. "Do you think it aggravates it that the person being beaten didn't even fight back?"
Trujillo told jurors she had a history of being sexually or physically abused by men. She said that she had been sexually assaulted by one man and that another boyfriend had kicked her in the stomach when she was pregnant, resulting in a miscarriage.
Trujillo described being attacked in an incident reminiscent of Andersson's slaying. She told jurors a friend in 2009 had tried to rape her in his apartment, pinning her down and that she used the only weapon within reach — a candlestick — to fend him off.
Trujillo's former friend testified Wednesday that it was Trujillo who knocked him out with the candlestick in an unprovoked attack. No charges were filed related to that incident.
She also discussed her upbringing, including growing up in Arizona after being born in Mexico, and her various jobs, including massage therapist, club bouncer and artist.
At times during her verbose testimony, Jordan would ask the judge to instruct Trujillo to not answer her lawyer's questions in the form of narration.
Several of Trujillo's family members also testified Thursday, saying she was a good person.
On Wednesday, prosecutors presented 19 witnesses during the trial's punishment phase. Most of the witnesses detailed Trujillo's criminal history or firsthand experiences in which she became violent toward them when she drank. Trujillo was arrested twice for drunk driving, once in 2008 and again in 2010. She had been drinking the night of Andersson's death but her blood alcohol level was not tested, according to testimony.
Jurors on Wednesday also heard from Andersson's family and friends, who testified that he was a good person who wouldn't hesitate to help anyone and that they were still trying to understand his violent death.