Miami — A woman was most likely standing, not kneeling as a medical examiner testified, when she was fatally shot by her husband, who later posted a photo of her corpse on Facebook, a defense expert testified Thursday.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden told a jury that the angle of gunshots indicates 27-year-old Jennifer Alfonso was upright when the 2013 shooting began, contradicting the Miami-Dade medical examiner's testimony from the day before.
Baden's analysis would buttress the self-defense claim of Derek Medina, who contends he shot his wife after she attacked him with a knife and her fists at their home. Medina's attorneys say they will also show he suffered from "battered spouse syndrome" at Alfonso's hands and that she was a chronic drug abuser.
Baden, who has testified in hundreds of cases including the O.J. Simpson murder trial, said the angle of entry wounds of some of the eight bullets fired by Medina indicate they traveled in a horizontal direction, not downward toward a cowering woman as the medical examiner concluded.
"My opinion, based on everything I've gone through, is that she was standing and bent forward, with her (left) arm up," Baden testified. "Her left arm was near her. The right arm could be up, down, holding something, not holding something, I can't tell."
Baden also said Alfonso would not have been immediately incapacitated despite the number of shots fired into her body at close range in their townhome's kitchen. Medina told police in a videotaped statement that his wife continued attacking him after she was shot.
"After she's shot, she can probably move around for a few seconds and then collapses," he testified.
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During cross-examination, prosecutor J. Scott Dunn noted that unlike Baden's report, the medical examiner's conclusion was based on actual physical analysis of Alfonso's body, removal of the real bullets and so forth.
"That's not something you got a chance to do, right?" Dunn asked.
"Yes," Baden replied.
A defense ballistics and use-of-force expert, former FBI agent Benjamin Tisa, testified that Medina could have fired the eight shots from his .380-caliber handgun in just over three seconds. Tisa was asked whether it would be a "combat situation" for Medina if Alfonso had a knife.
"That would be an assaultive action that would require a defensive action," Tisa said.
Medina, 33, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree murder. Medina told police in the statement that he posted the photo of his wife's corpse on Facebook to tell family what happened and why, especially the allegations of abuse.
Medina is also charged with illegal discharge of a weapon and with child neglect because Alfonso's 10-year-old daughter was in an upstairs bedroom when her mother was killed. Testimony shows the girl did not witness the shooting.