Crime

Prosecution: Pride, rage fueled South Miami Facebook killer

Opening statements for Derek Medina, the South Miami man who fatally shot his wife and posted a photo of her body on Facebook, begin in Miami-Dade court Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015
Opening statements for Derek Medina, the South Miami man who fatally shot his wife and posted a photo of her body on Facebook, begin in Miami-Dade court Tuesday, Nov. 10, 2015 wmichot@miamiherald.com

Before he became notorious for posting a photo of his wife’s dead body on Facebook, South Miami’s Derek Medina bragged about an unbeaten record: 25-0 as an amateur boxer.

It was that fighter’s pride that drove him to murder his wife when she threatened to leave him during a torrid argument, a prosecutor told jurors on Tuesday, the start of Medina’s highly anticipated trial for murder.

So Medina fetched a pistol from his bedroom and returned to the kitchen of their South Miami townhome to begin arguing anew, Miami-Dade prosecutor Leah Klein told the jury.

“She started punching him in the chest and arm, and that’s when he shot her,” Klein said. “No one time, not twice to make her stop. Not three times to send her a message. Nope, ladies and gentleman, he emptied the clip. Eight shots. Twenty-one entry and exit wounds.”

And afterward — in a chilling act that elevated the killing into international news — Medina immediately posted a photo of Jennifer Alfonso’s bloody, contorted body on Facebook.

“He did what people did when they win. He told people about it,” Klein said.

Jurors on Tuesday got their first glimpse of evidence and testimony against Medina, 33, whose current fight, in court, could land him in prison for life.

For trial, the noticeably thinner Medina wore a dark suit, having recently shed his long black mane and messy mountain-man style beard that he had grown over two years in jail.

The trial began more than two years after Medina shot and killed Alfonso, 26, in August 2013. “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,” Medina posted on his Facebook profile, along with the photo.

Medina’s Facebook post repulsed the public. Critics called the killing a symptom of a society obsessed with social-media-fueled fame. He claimed he did it as a way to notify Alfonso’s family of her death.

The photo Medina posted on Facebook showed Alfonso, a Denny’s waitress, wearing all black and pink socks, on her knees, twisted backward in a bloody heap. The images stayed online for hours before the site finally took it down.

Defense lawyers declined to provide an opening statement to jurors, opting instead to explain their case after the state finishes presenting their evidence.

Medina is claiming self-defense. In previous hearings, his defense team has portrayed him as a psychologically battered victim, the husband of an aggressive “diva” who longed to hurt him and called him “the woman” in their relationship.

Medina told police that he fired only after Alfonso “kept on punching me like crazy” near his temple or neck.

His defense is also expected to argue that Alfonso was high on synthetic “bath salts” found in her kitchen, even though a county toxicology found no evidence of the drugs in her system.

According to prosecutors, Alfonso got into an argument in their bedroom with Medina over his lack of spending time with her. He brandished his gun there as she threw mascara and a towel at him and threatened to leave him.

Then, Alfonso went downstairs to make pancakes for her daughter. Medina followed and the blow-up continued in the kitchen. He left, went upstairs, got his pistol and returned to confront her when she grabbed a kitchen knife to defend herself, prosecutor Klein said.

Medina told Miami-Dade detectives that he disarmed her of the knife and returned it to a kitchen drawer before firing. “He wasn’t going to lose by letting her leave him,” Klein said.

Alfonso’s 10-year-old daughter, Isabel, was upstairs at the time of the shooting. Medina told her to stay in a bedroom, never worried she might come out and see her mother’s body, Klein said.

“He had time to post on Facebook but no time to call anyone to come and get Isabel,” Klein said.

On Monday, two former co-workers at the Gables Club recalled that Medina spoke to them by phone immediately after the shooting. He apologized for not being able to come to work, then admitting to killing his wife.

“He goes on to say it was years of abuse, he couldn’t take it anymore and she was punching him and he killed her,” property manager Paul Ampudia testified.

Ampudia and another co-worker both testified that Medina never mentioned his wife was armed with any kind of weapon.

A South Miami police dispatcher also testified that Medina, accompanied by his father, walked into the station lobby to surrender. He claimed Alfonso “came at him with a knife.”

The trial continues Thursday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Yvonne Colodny.

Derek Medina is accused of killing his wife and posting her body on Facebook.

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