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Delgado jury visits scene of woman's slaying

July 10, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - Jurors visited the spot Friday afternoon where Robyn Renee Richardson's body was found more than three years ago, but then were released for the weekend before hearing jury instructions or closing arguments.

Circuit Judge Christopher Wilkes asked jurors to return at 9 a.m. Monday to resume hearing the first-degree murder trial for Miguel Delgado, 36, of Martinsburg. Jurors are expected to begin deliberations before noon.

Delgado is charged with stabbing Richardson 23 times late June 15, 2001, or early June 16, 2001, and strangling her. A neighbor found Richardson's nearly naked body in a grassy area in their Moler Avenue apartment complex the morning of June 16.

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Delgado's trial began Wednesday.

Before jurors were shuttled to the scene by court bailiffs, Delgado's defense attorneys called Berkeley County Medical Examiner David Brining to the stand.

Using several pieces of evidence, including rigor mortis present throughout Richardson's body and statements of others, Brining said he determined that Richardson died at around 11:30 p.m. June 15, 2001.

The defense rested its case without calling Delgado to the stand.

After jurors arrived at the apartment complex they walked around the area, looking at the spot where Richardson's body was found and a set of wooden steps leading up to her apartment.

Several stood outside of a set of windows in one apartment, seeing what they could see from that vantage point.

Lisa Hearn previously testified that she was looking out of one of the windows the night of June 15, 2001, and saw a light-skinned man run from the grassy area and leave in a Chevrolet Blazer.

Delgado at that time owned a white Blazer.

A tree blocked the view from one of the windows, but Hearn said she could see from the other.

One of the jurors said to Wilkes that the tree probably has grown in the last three years, but Wilkes said he could not comment and that jurors must decide the facts of the case on their own.

A jury of seven women and five men, plus one alternate juror who is a woman, are hearing the case.

One of the state's key witnesses, Tracy Cardona, Delgado's ex-girlfriend, testified Thursday that Delgado told her he had killed Richardson.

Two days after Richardson's body was found, Cardona took the Blazer and drove to her family in Massachusetts. She testified that she left because she was scared.

A DNA expert has testified that Richardson's blood was found inside Delgado's Blazer.

Berkeley County Prosecutor Pamela Games-Neely has said that Richardson and Delgado were dating and that Delgado stabbed the 29-year-old woman after an argument.

Delgado's former roommate has testified that the day after Richardson's body was found, he saw Delgado washing the inside, but not the outside, of the Blazer.

Victor Antonio Feliciano, Delgado's former boss at a furniture rental store in Martinsburg, testified Thursday that Delgado acted strangely on June 16, 2001.

"He was just off that day. Very bad mood. Very edgy," said Feliciano, who said Delgado normally was a jovial man.

According to Feliciano, Delgado said he had argued with a woman the night before after she made a derisive comment about the size of his genitalia. Delgado told Feliciano that they pushed each other and that he then left, Feliciano testified.

Feliciano said Delgado also took a large handful of trash bags home with him that day.

A forensic science expert who testified for the defense said no physical evidence links Delgado to the murder.

Larry Dehus said no blood, saliva, semen or hairs belonging to Delgado were found on Richardson's body or inside of her apartment. No fingerprints were recovered and no blood or trace evidence connected to Richardson was found at Delgado's house, he said.

If jurors find Delgado guilty of first-degree murder, additional testimony will be offered to help them decide whether to grant mercy. Granting mercy means Delgado would be eligible for a parole hearing after serving 15 years in prison.

If jurors find Delgado guilty and do not grant mercy, he would spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance for parole.

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