Attorneys gave opening statements in an Orlando, Florida, courtroom Thursday in the murder trial against Danielle Redlick for the 2019 stabbing death of her stepfather-turned-husband, Michael Redlick.
The pair have two children together and were married for 15 years before Danielle allegedly stabbed Michael, an ex-NBA executive, to death in their Winter Park home on Jan. 11, 2019, after a fight.
Danielle's lawyer, Catherine Conlon, argued that the 48-year-old stabbed her then-65-year-old husband in self defense, while state prosecutor Sean Wiggins painted a more violent picture — describing the couple's home after Michael's killing as a "horror scene" in his opening remarks live-streamed by Law & Crime Channel.
"The evidence will show that, from the start, this defendant did everything she could to avoid responsibility for her actions," Wiggins said in his opening statement, alleging that Danielle had tried to clean the scene sometime in the 11 hours that passed between Michael's stabbing death and Danielle's first 911 call to "avoid responsibility."
Danielle, who was 20 years her husband's junior, also allegedly pursued the dating app MeetMindful in the early morning hours after her husband's death, according to the attorney.
When she did call 911 on the morning after Michael died, she told police that she thought her husband was deceased and that he "have died of a heart attack," Wiggins said. A medical examiner found no signs that Michael suffered a heart attack that evening.
He went on to describe what responding officers saw at the scene, including "blood-soaked towels, mops soaked in blood, a five-gallon bucket filled with pinkish water," as well as "blood in the primary bedroom shower" that contained Michael's DNA.
The prosecutor also painted the couple's relationship as a tumultuous one that Michael wanted to fix.
"The evidence will show at the time of the murder that the relationship, which had been terrible for so, so long, was one that he had not wanted to give up on — was one that he still wanted to make work," Wiggins said. "Michael wasn't done with the marriage. Michael wasn't done living under that roof…that he would be murdered in."
Conlon also described a difficult marriage in her opening statement, but pointed to Michael as the aggressor.
Michael, she said, was the first one to cheat on Danielle, at which point she left him and he begged her to come back before threatening to take their children and home. When Danielle later began speaking to other men, Michael became "angry," Conlon alleged.
On the night of his stabbing death, the pair got into a physical altercation in which Michael allegedly choked and smothered Danielle, making her fear for her life.
It was "the angriest that she has ever seen him," Danielle's attorney explained.
In a 911 call presented to the jury later on Thursday afternoon, Danielle says Michael was choking her and that she "went for the knife."
Michael had forced Danielle to the ground at one point during the fight, at which point she apparently reached into a drawer and pulled out a kitchen knife, stabbing Michael once in the shoulder before running to "hide" in a bathroom, Conlon said.
"Danielle Redlick did stab Michael Redlick" once in the shoulder, Conlon said, but he claimed that it was in an act of "self-defense" rather than an attack.
When she eventually emerged from the bathroom, Danielle found a trail of blood leading from the bathroom, where Michael had allegedly followed her, and into the living room, where her husband lay dead, according to Daniell's attorney.
As for her odd behavior after his death, Conlon said Danlielle was in "shock, confusion and despair."
The trial will continue on Friday morning.