The first phone call Karla Giraldo, State Senator Hiram Monserrate’s girlfriend, made after being cut by glass on her face was to her aesthetician.
“I asked her what had happened and she said it was an accident,” said Neifi Toro, who described her relationship with Giraldo as professional and testified that Giraldo sounded nervous, not frantic, as she was crying on the phone. “She told me she was bleeding from the face and I told her to go to the doctor, to go to the nearest hospital because I couldn’t help with that.”
It turns out Giraldo, then age 29, told Toro that she feared going to the doctor because she wanted to avoid scarring.
On day five of the Monserrate trial at Queens Supreme Court, Assistant District Attorney Scott Kessler continued to build his case before Judge William Erlbaum, since Monserrate had previously waived his right to a jury. However, Toro’s testimony and that of a few earlier witnesses have appeared to help the defense’s case more that the prosecution.
Monserrate’s attorney Joseph Tacopina told reporters outside the courtroom during a lunch recess on Tuesday, September 29 that Toro’s testimony proved two important facts including that Giraldo told the first person she spoke to after the incident in her native tongue that it was an accident.
“Two, she said to her aesthetician, who she called because she was concerned about her face, that she was afraid to go to the hospital, which explains her conduct in the hallway, which we’ve said along was the reason Senator Monserrate displayed a settled determination to get her to the hospital,” Tacopina said.
Earlier Tuesday, Kessler called Detective David Hernandez, a 19-year NYPD veteran who has spent the last six as part of the Crime Scene Unit. Hernandez arrived at Monserrate’s apartment on December 19 at around 7:50 p.m. to photograph and gather evidence.
Among the items photographed were bloody towels, a torn white sleeveless T-shirt recovered from a garbage can, a bloody white bed sheet and a bloody green shirt recovered from the sink in the bathroom. Additional bloody towels were found on the bathroom floor.
The broken pieces of glass on the bedroom floor and on a pillowcase were photographed and after being recovered as evidence were sent to labs.
Outside of the courtroom Monserrate’s supporters including Martha Flores-Vazquez, the director of the Community Prevention Alternatives for Families in Crisis, who has worked with domestic violence victims for 19 years, said she does not doubt the Senator’s innocence.
“There is no question mark in my mind,” she said. “If there were, I’d pull back.”