It's a decorous shoe that a woman would wear for a night on the town: a size 9 navy pump. Even the 5-inch heel doesn't seem out of place.
But then there is the blood, which carries a different message.
Jurors in Houston on Tuesday got their first real look at what prosecutors say was a murder weapon and defense lawyers argue was Ana Trujillo’s only way of defending herself from her on-again, off-again boyfriend. Trujillo, 45, is charged with using her stiletto heel 25 times to pound Alf Stefan Andersson, 59, to death. If convicted, Trujillo could spend the rest of her life in prison.
Prosecutor John Jordan silently showed the bloody shoe to jurors on Tuesday, the second day of the trial that is expected to last until next week. The question the jury will be asked to decide is whether the woman was the aggressor, committing murder, or whether she fought back from domestic abuse.
“The one thing we can be sure of in this case is that Ana Trujillo is not a victim,” prosecutor Sarah Mikelson told jurors when the trial began. “Ana Trujillo struck Stefan Andersson 25 times with the heel of her shoe while he lay on the floor and bled out.”
But defense attorney Jack Carroll painted a different picture, according to media reports from the courtroom. The attorney described Andersson as an alcoholic who became violent. After the couple returned to his apartment during the early morning hours of June 9, Andersson learned that Trujillo was going to leave him and go to a friend’s house, the attorney said.
Andersson slammed Trujillo against a wall, grabbed her and threw her over a couch, Carroll said in court.
“She couldn't breathe. And she was begging and begging [Andersson] to let her go. ... He started suffocating her. ... She did the only thing she could do, take a weapon at her disposal, which was a shoe, and started hitting him,” Carroll said.
Trujillo broke down in tears on Tuesday as the tape of her 911 call was played in court.
“I need help,” she tells an emergency operator. She is heard on the tape crying.
“I hit him with my shoe,” she tells the operator. “He's on the floor, he's bleeding a lot.”
The couple had a tumultuous relationship, coming together and breaking up, officials said. Trujillo, a native of Mexico, worked as a Spanish translator; Andersson was a professor and researcher at the University of Houston. By June, the pair had reconciled and were again together, prosecutors said.
On June 8, the couple went out drinking before returning to Andersson's apartment. Rosemary Gomez, a cab driver who drove Trujillo and Andersson on the night of the slaying, told jurors that she had picked up the couple from a Houston bar.
Gomez testified on Monday that during the short drive home, Trujillo was belligerent. Gomez said Andersson was embarrassed by Trujillo's behavior and that “he never cursed. He never got out of line.”
Gomez said she told Andersson, “You need to be careful. Your friend is out of control.”
“He got my hand and squeezed it and said, 'l'll be OK,'“ Gomez said, according to the Associated Press.
Gomez testified that she was so worried for Andersson that she got out of her cab, held Andersson's hands and prayed for him.
[For The Record, 12:10 p.m. PDT April 4: In an earlier version of this post, Ana Trujillo's defense attorney was identified as John Carroll. His name is Jack Carroll.]