Agreement clears way for first homicide trial since start of pandemic
An Allentown homicide suspect’s acquiescence Friday to courtroom procedures designed to stem the spread of COVID-19, including wearing a mask in front of a jury, has cleared the way for the first homicide trial at the Lehigh County Courthouse since the pandemic began.
Alexander Acosta-Quezada, 26, is charged with criminal homicide in the March 29, 2019, death of Yosandra Munoz-Corporan, 27, of Allentown. His trial is set to begin Oct. 26.
During a pretrial hearing before Judge Douglas G. Reichley, Acosta-Quezada said he did not object to wearing a mask in court, having jurors spread throughout the courtroom to facilitate social distancing, and having a livestream video of his trial played in another courtroom for spectators and the press.
Those procedures are being contested by at least one other homicide suspect. There has only been one jury trial in Lehigh County since March.
Police say Acosta-Quezada stabbed Munoz-Corporan, the mother of his two children, with a broken golf club during an argument that began when she was late picking up their children from his home.
The main focus of Friday’s hearing was graphic autopsy photos that Deputy District Attorney Kevin P. McCloskey
intends to show the jury, which Acosta-Quezada’s attorney, Robert Sletvold, has objected to.
The photos are necessary, McCloskey argued, because of the unusual nature of Munoz-Corporan’s fatal injury. Doctors say the golf club handle entered her thigh and then tore through her abdomen, ripping open an artery before denting her spine.
McCloskey said the photos are required to prove Acosta’s intent to kill. “We need to show the force with which the defendant drove this golf club into the victim’s thigh. The jury needs to see these photos. They’re powerful,” McCloskey said.
Acosta-Quezada is charged with criminal homicide in Munoz-Corporan’s death, and assault and criminal mischief in connection with a fight he’s accused of having with her boyfriend dent. during the same inci
If convicted, Acosta-Quezada could be sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole. He is being held in county jail without bail.
According to police, Acosta was enraged because Munoz-Corporan was late, and as soon as she showed up to his homein the 100 block of South West Street in the passenger seat of her boyfriend’s car, he pulled her out by her hair and punched her in the face. He then fought with her boyfriend and smashed two windows of the car with a golf club, police say, which broke in half. Munoz-Corporan grabbed Acosta-Quezada from behind, police said, and he swung backward with the handle, hitting her in the thigh. She ran down the street, but soon collapsed between two parked cars and died.
In court Friday, Acosta-Quezada said the killing was an accident.
“I know that no other human being has the right to take another person’s life, especially the mother of his children,” he said.
Reichley said he will rule on the defense objections to the use of specific autopsy photos before jury selection starts. On Oct. 22, the judge will hear arguments from homicide suspect Antwan Washington’s counsel in connection to Washington’s objections to COVID-19 trial procedures.
Washington, 27, of Allentown is charged with with homicide, two countsof attempted homicideand two counts of aggravated assault in the July 31, 2018, death of 16-year-old Dieruff High School student Carolina Monsanto, and the wounding of a 31-year-old woman and a 19-year-old man during the same shooting.
Among Washington’s complaints is that he will be required to wear a mask during the trial, and that it will makehim look guilty.
His attorneys also raised issues about the fairness of jury selection during a pandemic.
It unclear how any ruling in Washington’s case would affect Acosta-Quezada’s trial.
AlexanderAcosta-Quezado did not object to COVID-19 procedures during his upcoming homicide trial. He is accused of fatally stabbing 27-year-old Yosandra MunozCorporan (pictured) with a broken golf club.