Luis Toledo trial: Testimony begins in high-profile triple murder case

by: Jason Kelly Updated:

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. - Opening statements began Wednesday morning in the murder trial of a 35-year-old Deltona man who is accused of killing his wife and her two children.

Twelve jurors and three alternates -- 11 of whom are women -- were seated Wednesday for opening statements in the trial of Luis Toledo.

Toledo is accused of killing Yessenia Suarez, 28, and her children, Thalia Otto, 9, and Michael Otto, 8, who disappeared from their Deltona home in October 2013 but were never found.

Investigators said Toledo confessed to killing Suarez but denied killing her children.

Photos: Yessenia Suarez, Thalia Otto and Michael Otto

© 2017 Cox Media Group.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

Photos: Evidence in Luis Toledo case

"He said he could take no more. He karate-chopped her (Yesseina) in the throat," said state prosecutor Ryan Will.

Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty in the deaths of the children.

Toledo was quiet as prosecutors tried to paint him as an angry, jealous husband. They said that his marriage was ending and that he was jealous of an affair Suarez was having.

Prosecutors said Toledo installed a tracking app on her phone to access her location in real time. They said he killed her in a rage and killed her children to eliminate the potential for witnesses before seeking help from a neighbor to dispose of evidence.

"His answer is, 'I'll never tell you where the body is,'" Will said during opening statements Wednesday. "Not that he doesn't know or blames Tyshawn Jackson. 'I'll never tell you where the bodies are.'"

Photos: High-profile missing persons cases

© 2017 Cox Media Group.
© 2017 Cox Media Group.

Photos: Search for bodies in missing family case

Defense attorney Jeff Deen said because the bodies haven't been found, it's unknown how the victims died of if they're even dead.

"Because somebody died doesn't make it murder, doesn't make it second-degree murder, doesn't make it first-degree murder," Deen said. "There is no bloody crime scene. There is no witness."

Toledo is being tried in St. Augustine because of the publicity the case has received.

The judge chose to not sequester the jury during the trial, which is expected to last through October.

Suarez's mother, Felecita Perez testified Wednesday afternoon about how her daughter was a woman who was improving her life and wanted the best for her family.

Read: Luis Toledo: Trial begins for Deltona man accused of killing wife, children

"She used to say, 'Mommy, one day, I'll be wearing my gown for my bachelor's degree,' but that day never came," Perez testified in tears.

Perez said she doesn't believe the children would leave on their own.

"They would never run away. The first place they would run wouldn't been to grandma's house," Perez said.

She also testified that her daughter had money in the bank, but didn't use her bank account or make car payments after her disappearance.

Court resumes Thursday morning and Channel 9's Jeff Deal will be in court to provide updates.

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