Jury de­liv­ers guilty ver­dict in Nor­wich Goth case

The Day - - FRONT PAGE - By KAREN FLORIN Day Staff Writer

A jury, af­ter hear­ing nearly a month of un­usual tes­ti­mony in a case in­volv­ing fol­low­ers of the Goth sub­cul­ture, found Kristo­pher Prud­homme guilty Fri­day af­ter de­lib­er­at­ing for just a few hours in New Lon­don Su­pe­rior Court.

Prud­homme, 30, now of Hous­ton, Texas, faces a max­i­mum of 30 years in prison when he is sen­tenced Feb. 26. He was taken into cus­tody af­ter Judge Bar­bara Bai­ley Jong­bloed in­creased his bond from $250,000 to $600,000. In ask­ing for the bond to be raised, the prose­cu­tor re­quested that the judge or­der prison of­fi­cials to pro­vide at­ten­tion to Prud­homme be­cause he is autis­tic and pos­si­bly sui­ci­dal.

Prud­homme’s fa­ther, who had watched the en­tire trial, and his mother, who viewed the past few days of tes­ti­mony, were cry­ing in the

front row of the court­room.

The jury of five men and one woman de­clined to com­ment on the ver­dict as they left the build­ing. They had pro­nounced Prud­homme guilty of three of the five charges in­volv­ing the Oct. 22, 2016, at­tack that left vic­tim Michael Lover­ing with no legs. They said he was not guilty of first-de­gree as­sault with in­tent to cause se­ri­ous phys­i­cal in­jury, but guilty of first-de­gree as­sault un­der cir­cum­stances evinc­ing an ex­treme in­dif­fer­ence to hu­man life. They found him not guilty of stran­gu­la­tion, but guilty of cru­elty to per­sons and tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence.

“We ap­pre­ci­ate the hard work of the jury,” prose­cu­tor Stephen M. Car­ney said. “This was a dif­fi­cult case. It was long and some­times te­dious. They were care­ful and at­ten­tive, and this showed in their de­lib­er­a­tions.”

Car­ney thanked In­spec­tor Rhett D’Amico, who he said did ex­tra­or­di­nary work as­sem­bling the case, which in­volved mul­ti­ple wit­nesses from out of state and a large num­ber of exhibits. Also work­ing with the pros­e­cu­tion was Vic­tim Ser­vices Ad­vo­cate Stephanie Bar­ber, who called the vic­tim at his home in Louisiana to tell him of the ver­dict.

De­fense at­tor­ney Da­mon A.R. Kirschbaum de­clined to com­ment as he and his as­so­ciates left the build­ing.

The jury had re-lis­tened to tes­ti­mony from Lau­ren Muskus, the woman at the cen­ter of the con­flict be­tween Prud­homme and the vic­tim, be­fore ren­der­ing its ver­dict.

Lover­ing, who is con­fined to a wheel­chair, had trav­eled from Louisiana to tes­tify at the trial and had vom­ited at the wit­ness stand dur­ing cross-ex­am­i­na­tion by Kirschbaum.

Tes­ti­mony at the trial had re­vealed that Prud­homme, then work­ing as a drafts­man at Elec­tric Boat and liv­ing in an apart­ment on Main Street in Nor­wich, had in­vited Lover­ing to stay with him while Lover­ing got his life to­gether. The two men were both in­volved in the Goth scene and had met while serv­ing as DJs and mu­sic pro­mot­ers in New Or­leans clubs.

On Oct. 22, 2016, af­ter com­ing home from a concert in New Haven, Lover­ing, who was drink­ing, ad­mit­ted to Prud­homme that he had slept with Prud­homme’s girl­friend, Muskus, while Prud­homme was at work, ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony.

Lover­ing said he was sit­ting on the floor, his legs tucked un­der him, when he felt pres­sure on his neck and passed out. Though he said Muskus was present in the room and wit­nessed the at­tack, she tes­ti­fied that she was in Prud­homme’s room the en­tire night.

Though Muskus said she and Prud­homme could hear Lover­ing groan­ing in his bed­room, Prud­homme did not check on Lover­ing and call 911 for about 14 hours. Dur­ing that time, Lover­ing, who still had his legs tucked be­neath him when the first po­lice of­fi­cer ar­rived, had lost cir­cu­la­tion to his legs. A sur­geon had to am­pu­tate both limbs the next day.

The state had as­serted that Prud­homme used a string from one of Lover­ing’s leather corsets to stran­gle Lover­ing, who had red marks on his neck when first re­spon­ders ar­rived. Ac­cord­ing to tes­ti­mony, Prud­homme gave the corset to Muskus, who took it to her apart­ment in Mon­roe.

In ad­di­tion to tes­ti­mony about the Goth scene, with its pale makeup, eye­liner, dark cloth­ing and elec­tronic mu­sic, the jury had heard tes­ti­mony that both Lover­ing and Prud­homme were in­volved in the BDSM sex scene. Two med­i­cal ex­am­in­ers had tes­ti­fied at the trial about the pos­si­ble ori­gin of the red marks around Lover­ing’s neck. Thou­sands of pages of Face­book posts and text mes­sages were en­tered into ev­i­dence, along with the corset and a whip­ping de­vice, known as a flog­ger.

The de­fense had al­leged that Lover­ing at­tempted sui­cide or was flag­el­lat­ing him­self when he was in­jured.

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