Evidence, testimony against husband presented in Port St. Lucie murder case

ST. LUCIE COUNTY — As a cadaver dog named Rudy searched his backyard on July 28, 2006, Albert Estrada kept peering out a glass door, his face pressed against it, staring at a patch of freshly tilled earth.

That’s what Port St. Lucie Police investigator Joel Smith said he observed the day before authorities found the bundled up body of Estrada’s wife, Julia Rolon-Estrada, 39, buried 2 feet deep near a window of their Rainier Road home.

State prosecutors say on July 26, 2006, Estrada used a handgun to shoot and kill his wife, who would have turned 43 Tuesday. He’s accused of wrapping her body in a tarp and a blanket and placing it in a shallow grave.

Jurors Tuesday were shown results of luminol tests conducted to detect the presence of blood. A series of photos showed body fluids on hallway tiles, in the laundry room and smeared throughout a hall bathroom, especially inside a tub, which glowed a bright purple when photographed in the dark.

Estrada is on trial for tampering with evidence and first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.

Prosecutors played more taped conversations between Estrada and police, including the day before his wife’s body was found, while detectives searched for clues to her sudden disappearance.

Inside his home that day, Estrada, who has pleaded not guilty, appeared perplexed as to what happened to his wife, who disappeared the night after she’d moved out of the home they shared.

While Port St. Lucie Police Detective Robert Fonteyn pressed for answers, Estrada remained evasive.

“Do you have any idea where she could be right now?” Fonteyn asked, while police combed the grounds.

“I wish,” replied Estrada, nonplussed.

“Do you think she’s OK?” Fonteyn asked.

“She better be OK,” he said. “Cause I’m here by myself. Got no family.”

Jurors viewed photos of Rolon-Estrada’s body, as it was found in the ground. Prosecutors also presented the blue plastic tarp that encased her body, the blanket that wrapped it and the black cord and tapes used that matched samples taken from a table inside the home.

The jury also saw a set of gold female rings found in a dresser drawer that tested positive for blood.

Port St. Lucie Police investigator Ron Schoner said based on three bullet holes and other ballistics evidence, it appeared Rolon-Estrada was shot inside the laundry room.

The shooter, Schoner said, most likely fired at her while standing near a kitchen counter.

“She was either closing the door or it was being opened,” he said, “but she was in the laundry room when she was shot.”

No comments: