A prosecutor said Thursday that Brian Lee Randone, a former reality TV contestant, smothered and tortured his former live-in girlfriend, causing more than 300 blunt force trauma wounds to the woman who was found dead in a Monrovia apartment in 2009.
Deputy District Attorney Philip Wojdak delivered his opening statement in the first day of the Randone murder trial in Pasadena Superior Court courtroom Wednesday morning. Focusing mainly on the wounds suffered by Felicia Lee, Wojdak began by showing the jury of nine women and three men a gruesome photograph of the deceased woman's face.
Wojdak said the medical examiner who conducted Lee's autopsy will testify that the wounds on Lee's face are consistent with those that would be caused by forcible smothering.
"What you're looking at is the classic kinds of wounds that you would expect to see when someone is smothered to death," Wojdak told the jury. "Her struggle for life causes these particular type of wounds."
"These wounds are not only evidence of smothering, they're evidence of struggling and smothering," Wojdak added.
The image of Lee's face shown on a projector screen caused one audience member to begin sobbing loudly.
Though the coroner cannot say exactly how Lee was smothered, Wojdak said he would testify that she would have to be alive to sustain the types of wounds she was found with.
Wojdak then moved on to the torture allegation against Randone, who--in a gray suit, dull yellow shirt and red tie with close cropped gray hair--looked strikingly different than his booking photo taken in 2009.
Wojdak displayed bloody images of Lee's neck, elbow, and legs that showed long gashes, swelling and bruising throughout her body. He said a medical examiner counted 320 separate wounds caused by blunt force trauma from an unidentified "long, thin object."
"These are blunt force trauma wounds, they're wounds from being hit by something," he said.
Wojdak then showed photos from Randone's Monrovia apartment, several of which showed blood stains on the bed and closet of the bedroom area, which he described as "extensively damaged."
Lee, a former adult film actress who also had small roles in mainstream movies like Rush Hour 2, was an avid user of the drug GHB, Wojdak said. GHB is commonly referred to as the date rape drug.
Wojdak said he expected Randone's defense attorneys to argue that Lee died from a GHB overdose and conceded that Lee had what could be a lethal dose of the drug in her system when she died. However, Wojdak noted that people have vastly different tolerance for the drug and said that Lee was a daily user for years.
"It's an amount that would be lethal to a lot of people, it's an amount that would not be lethal to a lot of people," Wojdak said.
GHB overdoses can sometimes cause seizures, but Wojdak said doctors will testify that the injuries caused to Lee's face and body would not be caused by Lee thrashing around during a seizure.
Randone's attorney Ed Rucker will give his opening statement at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.
Stay tuned for continued coverage of this trial throughout the day.