Lead detective says Michel Escoto showed no reaction after wife's death

Man accused of killing wife defending himself in murder trial

MIAMI - The lead detective in the death of a woman who was killed less than a week after she was married testified Monday that Michel Escoto showed no reaction after she told him his wife was dead.

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 his murder trial.

Assistant state attorney Gail Levine called her final witness, Miami-Dade police Detective Maria Mederos, to testify against Escoto. Mederos was the lead detective who helped interview and arrest Escoto after Trapaga's death.

Mederos testified that she thought it was strange Escoto showed no grief when he learned of his bride's death. She also said she was concerned for the safety of Escoto's ex-girlfriend, Yolanda Cerrillo.

During his cross-examination, Escoto asked Mederos if she was an expert in how people are affected by the death of their loved ones.

"Yes, I'm the one who tells them," Mederos replied.

Escoto also asked if Mederos remembered grabbing his throat and pushing him against the wall during the interrogation process.

"I wouldn't touch you," Mederos said.

Last week, Escoto was held in contempt of court after he threatened a witness. That prompted Levine to ask Judge Marisa Tinkler Mendez to reconfigure the courtroom for her safety.

The judge reiterated Monday that she doesn't believe safety is a concern.

"And I don't want to hear another word about it," Mendez said.

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