Key wit­ness ab­sent from mur­der trial

Woman who was also stabbed dur­ing in­ci­dent has re­turned to Gu­atemala

Connecticut Post - - NEWS - By Daniel Tepfer

BRIDGE­PORT — The state’s star wit­ness in the Os­car “Ziggy” Her­nan­dez mur­der trial will not come to court to tes­tify.

Brenda Castel­lanos, who po­lice said was stabbed mul­ti­ple times af­ter Her­nan­dez al­legedly stabbed his do­mes­tic part­ner to death, will not re­turn from her na­tive Gu­atemala, Lorelei Pesche, the man­ager of a lo­cal sup­port or­ga­ni­za­tion for un­doc­u­mented res­i­dents, told a Su­pe­rior Court jury Thurs­day.

“She can­not re­turn to this coun­try and she doesn’t want to re­turn,” Pesche said af­ter speak­ing to Castel­lanos on the tele­phone.

In­stead, Se­nior As­sis­tant State’s At­tor­ney Joseph Cor­radino told Judge Kevin Russo he will present a video on Fri­day of Castel­lanos telling her story.

Her­nan­dez’s lawyer, As­sis­tant Pub­lic De­fender Jonathan Demir­jian, was clearly not happy with that prospect, and vig­or­ously grilled Pesche on her last con­tact with Castel­lanos, who left this coun­try in Novem­ber.

Her­nan­dez, an un­doc­u­mented res­i­dent from El Sal­vador who was pre­vi­ously de­ported for as­sault­ing an­other woman in Stam­ford, where he worked in a deli, is on trial charged with mur­der, at­tempted mur­der, first-de­gree as­sault and risk of in­jury to a child.

Wit­nesses have tes­ti­fied in the trial that af­ter stab­bing 26-year-old Nidia “Yubi” Gon­za­lez — who at var­i­ous times has been re­ferred to as his wife or girl­friend — and Castel­lanos in his Green­wood Street home, Her­nan­dez fled with his 6-year-old daugh­ter in the early morn­ing of Feb. 24, 2017. He was cap­tured fol­low­ing a high-speed chase in cen­tral Penn­syl­va­nia.

Tanya Mar­cano, an emergency med­i­cal tech­ni­cian for Amer­i­can Med­i­cal Re­sponse, tes­ti­fied Thurs­day that she talked to Castel­lanos as she was be­ing treated in the am­bu­lance.

She said Castel­lanos told her, “My friend’s boyfriend went crazy. ... I was stabbed with a kitchen knife.”

Dr. Gre­gory Vin­cent, an as­so­ciate state med­i­cal ex­am­iner, tes­ti­fied that Gon­za­lez had one deep stab wound and six lesser stab wounds on the left side of her neck. He said the deep wound pierced her wind­pipe and her carotid artery, re­sult­ing in her death.

Her­nan­dez

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