Was stabbing death premeditated or defense?
Published: September 19, 2012
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ST. CROIX - Jurors hearing the case of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her live-in boyfriend were given two road maps of how the case will play out as opening statements were presented Tuesday morning in Superior Court.
Carmen O'Neill, 47, is charged with first-degree murder, first-degree assault and possession of a dangerous weapon during the commission of a violent crime all as acts of domestic violence.
On Jan. 17, 2010, police responded to a call about a domestic dispute and found Reynaldo Marin, 31, lying dead on his apartment floor. O'Neill was later arrested.
In opening statements, Assistant Attorney General Melissa Ortiz said that during an argument at their apartment, O'Neill threatened to kill Marin.
"The neighbors heard him say in Spanish that she was going to kill him," she said. "She meant it and she did it."
Ortiz said neighbors will testify that O'Neill was yelling at the top of her lungs in the apartment and Marin said to leave him alone. Ortiz said he tried to avoid O'Neill, but she was deliberate in her assault and the fatal stabbing.
In addition to a single stab wound to his chest, Ortiz said, Marin had a laceration to his head and a contusion to his side.
Ortiz said O'Neill's guilt became clearer when she tried to clean up the blood after the stabbing.
"The knife was back in the kitchen, and she had two mop buckets, and neighbors said the house smelled like Fabuloso," she said. "This was not a matter of self-defense, it was cold-blooded murder, up close and personal."
Defense Attorney Nullissa DeWese said witnesses will tell a story of a loyal, peaceful and devoted woman who was abused and had even sought intervention through numerous restraining orders.
"But drunken Rey was in a violent rage that led him to attack Carmen O'Neill, and she was forced to protect herself," she said.
She said the testimony that will come out in the trial will not give a story of murder, but one that is a story of self-defense and survival.
"You be the judge and we you have heard it all, I'm sure you will find her not guilty," she said.
According to police, emergency dispatchers received a call about a domestic dispute in Building 7 of Candido Guadalupe housing community, but by the time they got there Marin had already been stabbed. Witnesses told police that the couple had a history of fighting and could be heard on a number of occasions arguing inside the apartment.
When police arrived after the stabbing, O'Neill was in the apartment along with three small children, according to the report filed by V.I. Police Detective Ester McLeod-Newton.
Two of those boys could testify during the trial, and the oldest boy is expected to tell the jury that they stayed outside while the couple argued, but then he went to the door and saw his mother cleaning up the blood and saw Marin dead on the floor.
O'Neill gave police a statement and admitted that she and Marin had been fighting in the house, that she armed herself with a knife and that she began swinging it at him, according to McLeod-Newton's report.
O'Neill told police that she remembered swinging the knife but that she could not remember the point when she actually stabbed Marin, according to the report.
She said he was lying on the ground in blood. She tried to mop up the floor and placed a towel over his wound and placed the knife on a shelf in the kitchen, according to police reports.
The couple's neighbors were the first two witnesses called to the stand Tuesday, before power outages caused delays in the trial.
When the trial resumes today at 9 a.m. the prosecution will continue to call additional witnesses as it puts on its case.
- Contact reporter Fiona Stokes at 714-9149 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.