Saturday, April 12, 2014
HOUSTON (AP) — A Houston woman was sentenced to life in prison Friday for fatally stabbing her boyfriend with the 5½-inch stiletto heel of her shoe, striking him at least 25 times in the face and head.
Ana Trujillo was convicted of murder Tuesday by the same jury for killing 59-year-old Alf Stefan Andersson during an argument last June at his Houston condominium. Defense attorneys argued that Trujillo, 45, was defending herself from an attack by Andersson, who was a University of Houston professor and researcher.
Trujillo could be seen silently crying Friday when her sentence was handed down.
"I never meant to hurt him," Trujillo said before the judge made the jury's decision final. "It was never my intent. I loved him. I wanted to get away. I never wanted to kill him."
Andersson's niece, Ylva Olofsson, said the family was happy with the verdict.
"My uncle was a great man. He was kind. He didn't deserve what happened to him. We are happy that justice is served," she said.
Prosecutors said that jurors — who declined to speak with reporters afterward — told them that it was the physical evidence that proved to them this was not self-defense.
"She hit him 25 times in the head. That is a hard thing to overcome," said prosecutor John Jordan.
Trujillo's attorney, Jack Carroll, said he thought the life sentence was too harsh. Carroll said he thought the jurors were "worried about her future dangerousness ... I don't think she's dangerous."
During closing arguments in the trial's punishment phase, Jordan asked jurors for the maximum sentence: life in prison. Jordan said Trujillo not only violently killed Andersson but tried to ruin his character by falsely claiming he had abused her.
"Send the message that in our community, when you beat a man to death for no reason, when you come into a courtroom and you slaughter his good name ... that we in Texas are going to hold you accountable," Jordan said.
Carroll had asked jurors to find that his client acted in the heat of sudden passion, which would have limited her sentence to between two and 20 years. Carroll asked jurors to give her a two-year sentence.
"Ms. Trujillo needs mercy right now," he said. During Carroll's closing argument, Trujillo began crying.
Prosecutors argued Friday that Trujillo didn't kill Andersson in a moment of sudden passion but that his slaying was a vicious murder in which she pinned him down and repeatedly stabbed him with her shoe while he never fought back.
During their deliberations Friday, jurors asked to look at several pieces of evidence, including the blue suede stiletto heel — a size 9 platform pump. They reached agreement on a sentence after 4½ hours of deliberations, and also found that the crime was not done in the heat of sudden passion.
Trujillo took the witness stand on Thursday, telling jurors that she was forced to kill Andersson to save her own life during a more than hourlong fight after being chased down, knocked into a wall and thrown over a couch.
During about seven hours of rambling testimony, she testified that she had no idea she had hurt Andersson so badly until she reached for him and realized her hands were full of blood.
Carroll maintained Friday that Trujillo killed Andersson in "pure self-defense" and that "she did what she had to."
"The fact she took a stiletto to his face 25 times and then paraded around town like she's the victim, that's insulting," prosecutor Sarah Mickelson said during closing arguments.
Trujillo also testified she had been repeatedly abused by men and sexually assaulted, and that Andersson was a heavy drinker who would get angry with her.
Witnesses presented by prosecutors in the punishment phase detailed Trujillo's criminal history or firsthand experiences in which she became violent toward them when she drank. Trujillo was arrested twice for drunk driving. She had been drinking the night of Andersson's death but her blood alcohol level was not tested, according to testimony.
During the trial, prosecutors highlighted that Trujillo, a native of Mexico, did not have any injuries from her confrontation with Andersson while the researcher had defensive wounds on his hands and wrists. Trujillo's attorneys argued she had been injured.
Witnesses, including family and friends, said Andersson, a native of Sweden who became a U.S. citizen, had a drinking problem, but they described him as mild-mannered, quiet and never violent.
Follow Juan A. Lozano on Twitter at https://twitter.com/juanlozano70