Newly released medical evidence suggests that the South Miami woman killed by her husband — who then posted a photo of her corpse on Facebook — may have been on her knees trying to shield her face as he repeatedly shot her at point-blank range.
The medical examiner’s report, obtained Thursday by the Miami Herald, will likely be key evidence for authorities looking to contest any self-defense claims by Derek Medina, whose gruesome post on his Facebook page drew worldwide headlines.
The autopsy report notes that Jennifer Alfonso, 27, suffered a slew of gunshot wounds to her left forearm, a clear indication she was trying to shield herself from the volley of gunfire from her husband. Many of the bullets traveled at a downward angle, the report says, with one bullet entering her right chin at such a steep downward angle that it lodged itself in her back at the right side of her ribs. Gunpowder residue also was found on her left hand and forearm, and right side of her neck and chin, a sign that she was shot at point-blank range in the tight quarters of the South Miami townhouse kitchen.
In all, examiners recovered seven bullets and two bullet fragments from Alfonso’s body. Medina suggested to detectives that he shot her in self-defense only after she began “punching him,” according to an arrest report.
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Former Miami-Dade homicide prosecutor Matthew Baldwin, who reviewed the report but is not involved in the case, said the findings will loom large in upcoming court hearings.
“Evidence like this is devastating to a self-defense claim because it shows a jury, like he showed the world on Facebook, that she was absolutely no threat to him,” Baldwin said. “The location and direction of her wounds further suggest that she was kneeling in a defensive position at the time she was shot, especially in light of the [gunpowder] on her arm and neck.”
One of Medina’s lawyers said on Thursday that he had not had a chance to review the medical examiner’s report. Much of the evidence against him will be fleshed out Tuesday during a hearing in which his lawyers will ask Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Yvonne Colodny to release Medina on bail.
“We will be addressing this issue at [Tuesday’s] hearing,” lawyer Saam Zangeneh said.
Medina has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder with a firearm. He is likely to be indicted for first-degree murder in the coming weeks.
The photo that Medina has acknowledged to police he posted on Facebook indeed shows Alfonso on her knees, her torso bent back awkwardly on the kitchen floor. The photo depicts blood soaking her left arm.
Along with the photo, Medina also posted an apparent confession on his Facebook page.
“I’m going to prison or death sentence for killing my wife. Love you guys. Miss you guys. Take care. Facebook people you’ll see me in the news,” he wrote, adding: “My wife was punching me and I’m not going to stand anymore with the abuse so I did what I did. Hope u understand me.”
Miami-Dade homicide detectives, however, have painted Medina as the aggressor on the morning of Aug. 8.
In an arrest report, investigators described Medina as admitting he pointed a gun at his wife in their bedroom during a morning argument. When Alfonso said she was “leaving him,” he followed her to the kitchen, where she began punching him, he told police.
Medina then walked upstairs, retrieved a pistol and confronted her again in the kitchen. She grabbed a knife, but Medina told police he disarmed her and returned the weapon to a kitchen drawer.
The 30-year-old security guard told police Alfonso then “began punching him again,” forcing him to fire at her.
In the days following his arrest, Medina’s family told reporters that he was defending himself and that Alfonso abused him. Her diary, also evidence in the case, depicts their relationship as extremely stormy, with her wishing at one point she could “rip his eyes right out” after she believed he was ogling other women.
Part of the confrontation was caught on footage from an internal surveillance camera that was seized by police.
The shooting happens just off camera, although the video shows a swirl of gunpowder in the air from the volley of gunfire.
The footage also shows Medina calmly retrieving a jacket and his phone, apparently stopping to snap a photo of Alfonso’s body before walking out of the townhome. Alfonso’s 10-year-old daughter from a previous relationship was upstairs at the time and was not physically harmed.