The man who killed his wife and posted a photo of her corpse on Facebook in 2013 acted in self-defense, his lawyer said, adding that he lived in fear of her drug abuse, violent tendencies and even Satan worship.
Derek Medina’s defense attorney Saam Zangeneh said Monday that he will seek to introduce evidence that 27-year-old Jennifer Alfonso was an avid user of synthetic drugs such as Ecstasy, that she battered her husband and that she was deeply involved in the occult and Satan worship.
Jury selection begins Tuesday for Medina, 33, who faces life in prison if convicted of the August 2013 slaying at the couple's South Miami home. Medina has been jailed since his arrest.
The case gained national attention because Medina posted the photo of Alfonso's body on Facebook, admitting in the post that he killed her and would likely go to prison. In the photo, Alonso’s body laid twisted, knees bent backward.
At the time of the shooting, police said that Medina changed his clothes and drove to his family’s home where he told his father Derek Medina Sr. that he had killed his wife. At no point did he call 911.
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In later interviews with police, however, he said it was self-defense.
On Monday, Zangeneh said Alfonso started the fight, which escalated to the point where she came after Medina with a knife. He then shot her.
"She initiated a confrontation. My client tried to calm her down," Zangeneh said during a hearing on trial evidence before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Yvonne Colodny.
Prosecutor Scott Dunn urged Colodny to limit defense use of the allegations involving Alfonso, reminding the judge that she is the victim and is not on trial.
"It is not open season on a victim just because a defendant is claiming self-defense," Dunn said.
The prosecution will seek to cast doubt on the self-defense claim with evidence that Medina was an accomplished amateur boxer who had little to fear from his physically weaker wife. Other evidence shows that Medina had years earlier told a friend he would kill Alfonso if she ever tried to leave him, which her friends said was her plan.
Colodny ruled that the evidence involving the Alfonso allegations could only be used if the proper legal foundation is laid for the jury. She also imposed some limits on the prosecution's use of the Medina boxing evidence.
"I'm not going to permit fishing expeditions," she said. "We're going to keep it to the facts of the case."
Based on reporting by the Associated Press.