Trial begins for suspect accused of killing man with axe in Celebration

Updated:

Loading
CELEBRATION, Fla. —

The first murder suspect in the town that Disney built is on trial, three years after being accused of killing a man with an axe and a shoe string.

David Murillo's attorney didn't deny that his client killed Matteo Giovenditto in Celebration, but he said Murillo was scared for his life because the victim tried to sexually assault him.

“He thought the guy was possibly going to kill him,” said defense attorney Michael Nielsen.

In court on Wednesday, Murillo showed little emotion as prosecutors opened their case against him, calling him a cold and calculating killer.

“(The) defendant sees an axe in the closet, wlks up, grabs the axe and proceeds to axe Mr. Giovendetti in the back of the head several times,” said prosecutor Bradford Fisher. “Mr. Giovendetti collapses, goes to the ground, and the defendant, seeing that he's still breathing, says, ‘Well, can't leave him like that.’ (He) takes off his shoe string and strangles him with and finishes him off.”

Murillo was arrested in 2010 days after investigators found the body Giovenditto’s body in his condo.

In court, Murillo's lawyer said his client was a victim who was confused and afraid and acted out of self-defense, not first-degree murder.

“(He) thought the guy was possibly going to kill him, and he snapped. He snapped,” said Nielsen. “And the first thing he found was an axe, a hatchet.”

The defense is expected to begin its case to the jury on Thursday. There’s no word on whether Murillo will take the stand.