Monserrate's injured girlfriend testifies

September 30, 2009 7:13:31 PM PDT
Her face shielded, Karla Giraldo was surrounded by burley bodyguards who were hurrying her up the steps and into the Queens courthouse. Even inside she wore large sunglasses hiding any visible damage from the deep cuts she suffered to her face.

Still surrounded by bodyguards, she was escorted into the courtroom.

Her testimony was a unique element of the prosecution's case against State Senator Hiram Monserrate.

She took the stand reluctantly, now claiming it was an accident when Monserrate allegedly slashed her face with a water glass during an argument at his apartment building back in December of 2008.

Monserrate, who was charged with assault, has claimed all along it was an accident as he was bringing her a glass of water.

Prosecutors wanted Giraldo declared a hostile witness, which the judge denied.

Her early testimony through a translator was seemingly difficult and defensive toward the prosecutor who repeatedly had to ask the same questions.

Focusing on events as she left the apartment building to seek help, which was caught on a series of security cameras, Giraldo testified Monserrate offered to drive her to the hospital, but prosecutors claim he was dragging her from the building.

She suddenly broke down in tears telling the judge, "I really don't want to watch that video. It makes me ill."

Later she said she didn't recall why she knocked on a neighbor's door as seen in the video.

"I was nervous. Panicky. Not because the neighbor could help me get to the hospital," she said.

The prosecutor argued that her response conflicted with her grand jury testimony in which she said she was looking for the neighbor's help.

Giraldo testified on Wednesday that that she felt harassed by detectives and prosecutors.

Testimony showed she required 40 stitches after the Dec. 19 incident.

If convicted of the top charge, second-degree assault, Monserrate will lose his Senate seat.

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