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Santa Clarita / Antelope Valley : Martial Arts Instructor Testifies He Didn’t Kill Rival Colleague : Courts: Suspect says he didn’t respect the victim, a tae kwon do black belt, but that he didn’t strangle her.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A martial arts instructor charged with strangling a rival colleague testified in court Thursday that he “didn’t respect” or “get along” with the woman he’s accused of killing, but also said he was not the murderer.

Stuart Milburn, 27, faces first-degree murder and sodomy charges stemming from the slaying of Veronica Estrada, 29, who was the American Taekwondo Assn.'s top-ranked female competitor in the second-level black belt division.

Under cross-examination, Milburn testified that while he had respect for Estrada’s talent, he had none for her leadership abilities.

“Why did you come to conclude she lacked leadership?” asked Deputy Dist. Atty. Robert Foltz.

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“Often she would use her rank to get things done,” replied Milburn, who is not nationally ranked in martial arts.

“To whom would she direct her rank to get things done?” Foltz asked.

“To me occasionally,” said Milburn. “She out-ranked me . . . We didn’t respect each other, we bickered, we didn’t get along.”

Foltz also questioned Milburn about the day he and two others found Estrada’s body and about how later that evening he called his then-girlfriend and asked her to come over, saying that he didn’t want to be alone.

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Foltz asked Milburn why he was so upset over the death of a woman he didn’t like or respect?

“I had never seen a dead body before, especially someone I knew,” Milburn said. “You have a sense of your own mortality. It’s a very intense experience.”

Prosecutors allege Milburn killed Estrada out of professional jealousy, in part because she was named instructor of the year at Taekwondo USA in Canyon Country, where they both taught.

During his testimony Thursday, Milburn said he did not kill Estrada on the evening of Dec. 15, 1993. His attorney has maintained he was at the martial arts studio and at a video store during the hour Estrada is believed to have been killed.

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A motorist also testified Thursday on behalf of the defense that she twice saw a woman who matched Estrada’s height and ethnicity walking in the vicinity of the crime scene shortly before Estrada is believed to have been killed.

Lorlinda Osborne testified that she first saw the woman walking alone, but that minutes later she saw her walking with a man who was about a foot taller than the woman.

“They were walking side by side,” Osborne testified. “He was in the process of putting his arm around her. She accepted it and leaned in to his arm.”


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