Defense witness unable to appear in court for Derek Medina murder trial

Judge says defense attorney 'has been trying to build an error'


MIAMI – The trial of a man who fatally shot his wife and then posted a picture of her body on Facebook ended early Monday because a witness scheduled to testify for the defense was hospitalized and unable to appear in court.

Derek Medina claims that he shot his wife in self-defense in their South Miami townhouse in August 2013. Police said Medina uploaded a photo of her body to Facebook after the shooting.

An expert in crime scene reconstruction was scheduled to testify, but defense attorney Saam Zangeneh informed the judge that his witness is hospitalized with a blood clot.

"It's become abundantly clear to this court that over the last 24 hours of court time that the defense has been trying to build an error, OK?" Miami-Dade County Judge Yvonne Colodny told Zangeneh. "You knew that this was an issue (but) never indicated to the court that the witness would not be available on Monday. You actually said, 'He will be here on Monday.'"

Attorneys for the defense and the prosecution agreed to depose the witness in the hospital Monday afternoon.

Colodny will decide Tuesday if she will allow that witness to testify as an expert. If so, he will take the stand Tuesday afternoon.

South Miami police Detective Jose Lopez testified in the afternoon. Lopez recalled what Medina told him after turning himself in at the police station.

"He stated that he had gotten into an argument with his wife, that it had escalated, that they had exchanged blows -- punching each other -- and she came at him with a knife and that he shot her," Lopez testified.

Lopez said Medina told him that he "had no choice" but to shoot Alfonso.

However, when Medina spoke with detectives later that day in a recorded interview, he told them that he disarmed Alfonso, but she continued to punch him.

Colodny said she would like to complete the trial before the Thanksgiving holiday. It was a sentiment shared by the state.

"People have Thanksgiving preparations on their mind, and they're sitting here having to rush to decide a verdict so that they can go out and finish their shopping to get home to their families," assistant state attorney Leah Klein said. "I just don't think it's fair to the case for all parties involved."

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