Former girlfriend takes the stand

July 09, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Tracy Cardona testified Thursday that she chatted with Robyn Renee Richardson online and that neither woman had a problem with the fact that both apparently were dating the same man.

The two women even had planned to go to a swimming pool together, Cardona said.

Richardson was killed late Friday, June 15, 2001, or early June 16, 2001. She was stabbed 23 times and strangled.

The man both women reportedly were dating - Miguel Delgado, 36, of Martinsburg - is charged with first-degree murder in Richardson's death. His trial began Wednesday.

One of Delgado's two attorneys, Michael Santa Barbara, has made note of the fact that Cardona took Delgado's Chevrolet Blazer to Massachusetts two days after Richardson's body was found.


DNA tests confirmed that Richardson's blood was found inside the Blazer on the driver's side door panel.

Cardona, a key witness for the state, was one of 14 witnesses who testified during the second day of the trial.

Others included police officers, DNA experts and Delgado's former co-workers.

Cardona said she met Delgado online and moved in with him two to three weeks before Richardson was killed.

Between 12:30 and 1 a.m. on June 16, 2001, Delgado woke Cardona and told her that if police arrived she was to say he came home at 10:30 p.m., she testified.

Delgado was drunk and told her he had killed Richardson, Cardona said. Given his intoxication, Cardona said she did not believe him until she read in the next day's newspaper that Richardson had been killed.

According to Cardona's retelling of what Delgado told her, he left a strip club and found a note on his car addressed to Richardson. He went to her apartment to drop off the note and found her watching television, Cardona said.

After an argument, Delgado asked to go to the bathroom but instead picked up a knife from Richardson's kitchen, Cardona said. He chased her down her apartment's steps and stabbed her, Cardona said Delgado told her.

Police testified that when they arrived the next morning, Richardson's television was on. Police also have said that they believe Richardson was initially stabbed inside of her apartment and then stabbed again after running down a set of steps to a yard.

After reading the newspaper, Cardona took Delgado's Blazer the following day and drove eight hours to family in Massachusetts.

"I used it to save my life," Cardona said after Santa Barbara asked if she stole the Blazer.

Delgado had threatened her right around the time "he did what he did," she said, referring to Richardson's death.

Cardona, 30, said she did not know exactly where Richardson lived and never had a chance to meet her in person.

Cardona said she is now engaged, pregnant and happy. She said she has not spoken to Delgado since leaving.

Delgado's former roommate, Richard Cislak, testified that late on June 17, 2001, he saw Delgado washing the inside of his Blazer.

He said he considered it odd because Delgado tended to keep his car clean, but usually washed the inside and outside at the same time. That night he only cleaned the interior, Cislak said.

Cislak said he thought Cardona was home that Friday night, but that someone could have come or gone. He said he was asleep with his door closed and the bedroom air conditioner on.

DNA evidence

Lt. Brent Myers, biochemistry section supervisor of the West Virginia State Police Crime Lab, testified that he tested several pieces of evidence for DNA.

No sperm was found on a vaginal swab taken from Richardson's body, but a mixture of DNA was found on the Blazer's inside driver's side door handle, he said. Richardson's DNA was present, along with that of an unknown female. Myers said the DNA from the second woman could have been blood, saliva or sweat.

A blood spot found on the lower side of the door panel only matched Richardson's DNA profile, he said.

Larry Dehus, a forensic science expert for the defense, testified that he reviewed the crime scene and autopsy reports.

"I found absolutely nothing that makes a direct connection between Mr. Delgado and the crime scene," he said.

He said no blood, saliva, semen or hairs belonging to Delgado were found. No fingerprints were recovered and no blood or trace evidence connected to Richardson was found at Delgado's house.

Dehus, who has investigated thousands of homicides, said assailants in violent knife attacks often have cuts on their hands.

Photographs of Delgado's hands were taken when he was arrested June 19, 2001, after Cardona came forward. No cuts are visible.

She heard a scream

Two people who were at Richardson's apartment complex that night also testified.

Lisa Hearn, who was in her mother's apartment across from Richardson's, said that on the night of June 15, 2001, she heard two popping sounds and a scream.

She went into her mother's kitchen to see if she could see anything. "I look out the window all the time cause I'm nosy," Hearn said.

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