Crime

Defense for Miami Facebook killer: Wife abused him

Derek Medina, accused Facebook killer, in court on Wednesday.
Derek Medina, accused Facebook killer, in court on Wednesday. rkoltun@elnuevoherald.com

The South Miami man who shot his wife, then posted a photo of her dead body on Facebook was “psychologically and emotionally abused” by a woman who ultimately attacked him with a knife, a defense lawyer told jurors Wednesday.

Jurors finally heard a summary of the defense for Derek Medina, who killed wife Jennifer Alfonso, 26, and uploaded a shocking photo on social media in August 2013.

As expected, his defense team went on the offensive against Alfonso, casting her as a rage-filled abuser who took drugs called “bath salts” shortly before the vicious argument that ended in their townhome’s kitchen.

Defense lawyer Saam Zangeneh insisted Alfonso lunged at Medina with a knife, prompting him to fire in self-defense.

“She had lost control of the man she had been abusing,” Zangeneh told jurors.

Medina, 33, a condo-security supervisor, faces up to life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.

Wednesday marked the sixth day of testimony in the closely watched trial. Prosecutors say Medina, angry with Alfonso after she threatened to leave him, shot and killed his wife execution-style.

Medina himself admitted to police that he argued with his wife in the kitchen, then went upstairs to fetch his .380-caliber pistol before returning to confront her again. He also said she grabbed a kitchen knife, which he took away from her before firing “because she was punching like crazy.”

The state rested their case Wednesday after an associate medial examiner testified that bullet trajectories and wounds to the neck and upper chest show Alfonso was kneeling in a cowering position when killed by a flurry of bullets.

Medina’s defense had opted to wait until the state finished their case to lay out their version of events to jurors.

Zangeneh did not address Medina’s own words to police — that he retrieved the gun and re-engaged his wife, then disarmed her of the knife before firing. He also did not address Medina’s posting of the photo on Facebook.

Instead, the lawyer noted that Alfonso, hours before the argument, was smarting that her husband had failed to wake her up to spend time with her. She sent text messages to a friend saying she “wanted to rip his eyes out” and she “was ready to explode.”

“She was furious at my client,” Zangeneh told jurors.

He also claimed that Alfonso, about 45 minutes before the shooting, can be seen in internal surveillance footage taking something out of a kitchen cabinet. A defense investigator later found a bottle of the synthetic drug alpha-PVP, sometimes called “bath salts.”

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s found no trace of the drug in its test of Alfonso’s blood, a conflict in the evidence likely to be hashed out later in the trial.

The defense also claims that surveillance video, which did not capture the shooting itself but depicts snippets of the altercation, shows “the butt of a knife.”

“At the end of the day in that little kitchen, she had the knife,” Zangeneh said. “She was attacking him.”

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