Testimony continues in downtown Orlando security guard's murder trial

ORLANDO, Fla. — Witnesses are continuing to testify Thursday in the murder trial of a man accused of raping and killing a 27-year-old woman at her downtown Orlando apartment.

Police said Stephen Duxbury strangled Sasha Samsudean in October 2015 at the Uptown Place apartments after she returned from a night out.

Duxbury worked as a security guard at the apartment building at the time.

Juror spent about 1½ hours Thursday reviewing almost 200 autopsy photos.






Dr. Gary Utz , the Orange-Osceola County medical examiner testified in court Thursday that Samsudean’s death was painful and that she suffered. He said it appeared she was beaten and had a fractured larynx.

“She's dead as the result of asphyxiation, and a particular type of asphyxiation: manual strangulation,” Utz said.

Utz testified about the necklace torn from her neck and the shirt ripped from her body.

Jurors also heard testimony about cleaning products that were poured on and into Samsudean's body that broke down some of her skin so quickly that they hid evidence of other potential injuries.

During cross-examination, Duxbury’s defense attorneys Utz if he found any sign of a struggle.

Utz said he saw none, which could potentially play into the defense’s theory that someone was having rough, consensual sex with Samsudean before she died.

Officers first on the scene testified how Duxbury appeared to be nervous.

"I'm standing by myself facing the door in the hallway. He walked by but he just stood and hovered like we were going to talk," Orlando Police Department Officer Kyle Medvetz said.

Police said DNA evidence was discovered on Samsudean's body and her bedsheets, and Duxury's fingerprints were found on her toilet and her nightstand.

Investigators said surveillance footage shows Duxbury walking with an intoxicated Samsudean. Her body was found wrapped in a comforter on her bed after friends began to wonder where she was.

Defense attorneys on Wednesday discussed Samsudean's sex life and the possibility that another man killed her.






However, many who took the stand Wednesday testified that they never visited her apartment.

Joshua Cohen, Samsudean's former sexual partner, described her as kinky and into choking during sex while his testifying Wednesday.

Her sexual partners said they provided detectives with DNA samples to rule themselves out as suspects.

WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer said deflecting blame toward a victim is a common tactic used by defense attorneys, but it does come with risks.

"Your job as a criminal defense attorney is to advance the best defense you can, regardless of who it offends," Sheaffer said. "With this type of defense, you always run the risk of alienating the jury, but if you don't have anything else, you have nothing to lose."

Duxbury cried as he told his supervisor that he was the last person to see Samsudean alive, the supervisor testified Wednesday.

Duxbury's attorneys have tried to get evidence excluded from the trial, including statements he made during a lie-detector test and a pair of shoes that police said matched shoe prints at the crime scene.

His attorneys claim that investigators botched the case and that the true killer remains at large.

While very personal testimony is playing out in front of Samsudean's family, Sheaffer said the judge's hands are tied.

"The quickest way to get a guilty verdict reversed on appeal is if the judge limits the defense theory of the case, even if that theory is farfetched or improbable, and, yes, even offensive," he said.

Duxbury faces life in prison if convicted in Samsudean’s death.

Court resumes at 8:30 a.m. Friday.

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