Michel Escoto to continue defending himself in murder trial

Judge denies mistrial for man accused of killing wife week after 2002 wedding

MIAMI – A man accused of killing his wife less than a week after they were married told a judge Tuesday he wants to keep representing himself in his murder trial.

Michel Escoto is accused of killing his wife, Wendy Trapaga, in 2002 to collect her $1 million life insurance policy. He has been acting as his own attorney throughout the trial.

Judge Marisa Tinkler also denied a motion for a mistrial that Escoto sought because of assistant state attorney Gail Levine's constant objections.

"I think that the defendant keeps filing motions for a mistrial knowing full well what he is doing," Levine said in court.

The trial continued with testimony from Detective Gus Bayas, who interrogated Escoto after his wife was killed. This time it was Escoto asking the questions.

Proving his innocence has not been easy for Escoto, who lost composure after Levine objected to his line of questioning.

"Jesus Christ," Escoto said, huffing and then dropping his head in frustration.

It has been 12 years since Trapaga was found drugged, strangled and beaten with a tire iron. It will be several more weeks before a jury begins deliberating Escoto's fate.

He faces life in prison if convicted.