Video is played at Monserrate trial

September 22, 2009 3:44:59 PM PDT
Prosecutors played a video in court today that they say shows State Senator Hiram Monserrate dragging his bleeding girlfriend through the lobby of a Queens building. The incident happened last December 19.

The evidence is crucial for the prosecution's case against Monserrate in the domestic violence trial in which he accused of cutting his girlfriend's face with a broken glass.

The surveillance video, recorded at the building in Jackson Heights where Monserrate lives, gives the first indication that his girlfriend is seriously injured.

Holding a towel to her face, Karla Giraldo, 42, leaves the apartment seeking help at a neighbor's apartment on the first floor.

Monserrate is seen pulling Giraldo away from the neighbors door and down the hall, and then she is seen struggling with Monserrate, grabbing the door frame, fighting to stay in the building as Monserrate pulls her through the vestibule and out the front door.

Monserrate is later seen putting his arm around her as they walk to his car.

Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina argues that Giraldo did not want to got to a hospital for treatment of the severe laceration to her face and that Monserrate was not dragging her out of the building, but using necessary force.

According to prosecutors, Monserrate is seen at the beginning of the tape throwing a business card into a trash chute. That card belonged to another man, and prosecutors say Monserrate found it in Giraldo's purse, setting him into jealous rage.

Inside the apartment, prosecutors say the couple fought for about two hours until the senator sliced her face with the broken drinking glass.

"In those two hours, he's still angry and he's still fighting," the prosecutor said. "This is a non-stop fight."

At one point, prosecutors say the senator is asked by his girlfriend to get her a glass of water.

"He hands the glass to her," the prosecutor explained. "Then the defendant says, 'You want the water? You want the water?' And he takes that glass and shoves it against her face. The glass breaks in his hand and a sharp piece cuts deep into her skin."

Monserrate was arrested after Giraldo, according to the prosecutor, later told doctors, "I can't believe he did this to me. My face. My face. It wasn't an accident. We were fighting and he cut my face."

Defense attorney Joseph Tacopina claims that on a bed in a dark room, Giraldo asked for the glass of water. He says Monserrate brought it to her, tripped and splashed water onto her.

Both Monserrate and his girlfriend, according to the defense attorney, now claim it was an accident.

"Without a witness, and a witness who recanted before a grand jury, there is no case at all," Tacopina said.

Monserrate faces up to seven years in prison and the loss of his senate seat if convicted on the top charge.


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