Ex-girlfriend testifies in civil trial over 2014 fatal shooting
The woman accused of negligence in her ex-boyfriend's 2014 death testified Wednesday in a civil trial examining the manner of his death — but she didn't say much.
Driving the news: A jury started hearing testimony in the highly publicized civil lawsuit filed by the family of Jonathan Crews against his ex-girlfriend, Brenda Lazaro.
- Lazaro is now married and goes by Brenda Kelly. Her husband and in-laws joined her in the courtroom Wednesday.
Context: Kelly was with Crews the night he died, and she told police that he shot himself as a way to prove that he loved her, but his family doesn't believe his death was a suicide and alleges that Kelly fired the shot.
- His body was found in his bed. His phone was found damaged between the mattress and the box spring of the bed, according to evidence submitted at the trial.
The intrigue: The case is a rare cross between civil and criminal proceedings.
- Kelly hasn't been charged with any criminal wrongdoing, but anything she says in the civil trial could be used in a criminal case.
- When Thomas Shaw, the Crews family's attorney, asked her dozens of questions on the witness stand over a 90-minute span, she didn't answer any of them.
- "I respectfully invoke my privilege against self-incrimination," she said after each question.
What they're saying: Shaw alleged during his opening statement that Kelly exhibited "obsessive jealousy" while dating Crews, arguing with him over one of his close female friends. At one point Kelly falsely claimed she was pregnant with Crews’ child.
- Emily Ramsey, the friend whom Kelly and Crews argued about, testified that she and Crews had never pursued anything beyond friendship. Crews had in fact set Ramsey up with his best friend, who is now her husband.
- As the arguments escalated between Crews and Kelly, he told his friends the afternoon before he died that he was planning to pack up her belongings and break up with her, Ramsey said.
What investigators found: Crews was lying in bed when his body was found. The bullet had entered from the left side of his chest, per the medical examiner's report.
The other side: In his opening statement, Kelly's attorney Andrew Jee asked jurors to "look at the evidence in a logical manner and determine if something happened."
- "Does somebody kill somebody because they're having lunch with someone that they're not romantically involved with? Probably not … I'm not sure the evidence is going to show that," Jee said.
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