Jurors apparently had sharp disagreement as they deliberated in the Julian Collazo murder trial Wednesday night, and Judge Barbara McCrory sent them home.
Jurors were sent to deliberate at 4:37 p.m. McCrory sent them home about three hours later.
“My understanding is you’ve had it for tonight and that tensions are getting a little bit high,” McCrory told them.
The judge said she wanted them to sleep on it and come back fresh Thursday.
She asked them to be back at the Rock County Courthouse by 10:30 a.m. Thursday.
On Wednesday, Collazo took the stand to accuse a former girlfriend of the killing.
Collazo faces life in prison if convicted on a charge of first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Christine Scaccia-Lubeck of Janesville on Dec. 8, 2017.
Scaccia-Lubeck was found stabbed at her Janesville home Dec. 9. Prosecutors have said she was stabbed 32 or 33 times.
In his testimony, Collazo, 22, said he had been having sex regularly with both Scaccia-Lubeck and Nicole Kazar, 25.
Prosecutors described Kazar as a drug-addicted, homeless prostitute, and Collazo offered a similar assessment.
The defense argued that Kazar killed Scaccia-Lubeck in a fit of jealous rage when Collazo brought Kazar to Scaccia-Lubeck’s house that Friday night.
Collazo said Kazar needed a place to stay, so he persuaded Scaccia-Lubeck to allow her to spend the night.
Collazo said he took Scaccia-Lubeck’s SUV to pick up Kazar at a gas station near Janesville's Five Points intersection, where she was dropped off by Damont L. Peacock, 37, of Janesville, according to testimony by Janesville police Detective Thomas Bechen.
Peacock, a Rock County Jail inmate, was evasive in answering questions about his role.
When Kazar arrived at the gas station, she asked Collazo for money. He gave her $20, and she bought crack cocaine from Peacock, Collazo said.
Kazar smoked the drug on their way to Scaccia-Lubeck’s house, where Kazar became upset and asked Collazo why he took her there, Collazo said.
Defense attorney Jeff Jensen said both women quickly deduced who they were in Collazo’s life.
Scaccia-Lubeck went to the bathroom, Collazo said, and Kazar followed. He then heard screams, went to the hallway and saw Scaccia-Lubeck, who pushed her way to the bedroom, he said.
Collazo said he went to help, but it was too late.
“I knew just by looking at her she wasn’t going to make it,” he said.
Kazar left the room, and Collazo followed. Then Kazar thought Scaccia-Lubeck was still alive and returned to stab her twice more, Collazo said.
He said he fled with Kazar because he feared he, a tattooed man from Texas, would be accused of the murder.
Collazo said he and Kazar went to another Janesville residence that night, where Kazar showered and changed clothes and Collazo sold a handgun from Scaccia-Lubeck’s house to Peacock.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks asked Collazo why he took the handgun, a 9mm Bersa that belonged to Scaccia-Lubeck’s husband, who had died the previous August.
Collazo said he was worried Kazar might kill him.
Dirks asked if that was the case, why sell the gun an hour later?
Collazo said Kazar had time to calm down, and he was no longer afraid of her.
Dirks also grilled Collazo about how Kazar managed to get no blood on her shoes. He testified he pushed both women in an attempt to separate them, and Kazar fell onto the bed in the bedroom, while Scaccia-Lubeck fell to the floor, her head near the foot of the bed and her legs at the doorway.
Kazar later stepped or jumped over the blood and the body, Collazo said.
During final arguments, prosecutors and the defense attorney said their versions made the most sense.
Dirks noted the law does not require the prosecution to prove a motive. Jensen said that’s true, but a motive is key for how people make sense of a crime.
The prosecution offered the words a Missouri jail inmate heard Collazo say the night Collazo was arrested with Kazar: that Collazo committed the murder to prove his loyalty to Kazar and to show he could protect her.
They also suggested robbery as a motive, Jensen said, who then asked a rhetorical question: Why would Collazo kill a woman who was giving him money and beer?
Dirks called Collazo’s testimony into question, noting he had given police different versions of what happened and that his testimony didn’t match those stories.
Dirks ended his final argument noting he was required to prove intent. Intent is easy to prove, he said, proceeding to mimic someone viciously thrusting a knife as he counted the thrusts, one through 32.
Jensen said Collazo’s version of events rests on the time-honored saying, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” and that Kazar, fueled by crack cocaine, did it out of jealousy.
Jensen asked why, if Collazo was the murderer, there wasn’t more blood on his clothing. And he pointed to what he said was a hole in the prosecution’s case: Where was the parka Kazar was wearing in surveillance footage taken from a motel the night of Dec. 9?
Prosecutors noted the clothing Kazar wore in a video from the Super 8 motel that night was the same pink-orange top and leggings she wore when the pair were arrested in Missouri.
But one thing was different: The green parka she wore at the hotel was not in Missouri the next night, and that’s what would have had blood stains, Jensen argued.
Jensen said if Kazar was not involved in the stabbing, then there was no way she would have gotten into the car with a man she thought had just killed a woman for a long-distance journey.
The only reason she went with him was that she did it, Jensen said.
In rebuttal, O’Leary said the defense had to point the finger at Kazar because that was the only way to make a case.
But the physical evidence all points to Collazo, O’Leary said.
“He found a poor, lonely woman and took advantage of her,” O’Leary said.
There is no way to use logic to explain people’s actions, O’Leary said, and there’s no logical reason Collazo stabbed her so many times.
Also during the trial:
- Kazar was not called to testify.
- State Crime Lab analyst Kevin Scott testified he found Collazo’s DNA on some Bud Light cans and Scaccia-Lubeck’s in blood stains on some shoes and tan pants, apparently the shoes and pants Collazo wore.
- No DNA from Scaccia-Lubeck was found on Kazar’s clothes. The only blood stain on Kazar’s leggings was found to be from Kazar.
- The jury on Wednesday night asked to see photos of the bloody footprints in Scaccia-Lubeck’s bedroom and the shoes of both Kazar and Collazo.
- The jury also asked for clarification of a jury instruction about “party to the crime.” McCrory said she was not allowed to explain, and the jury would have to do its best to understand the written instruction.