The blood-speckled shoes a Janesville murder suspect allegedly wore while a woman was fatally stabbed in her home in 2017 look like they will be a central piece of evidence during his trial this week.
Rock County prosecutors say the bloody shoeprint left next to Christine Scaccia-Lubeck’s body belongs to Julian D. Collazo, 22, who faces a charge of first-degree intentional homicide.
They also say when police found Collazo and Nicole R. Kazar sleeping in Scaccia-Lubeck’s stolen SUV, Collazo was wearing the red and white Air Jordan shoes, which had small amounts of the victim’s blood on them.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Dirks said Scaccia-Lubeck, 43, was “lonely,” “depressed,” and “vulnerable” before her mom found her dead Dec. 9, 2017. Scaccia-Lubeck’s husband had died four months prior, and she began paying Collazo for sex.
Collazo told a fellow inmate in Missouri (where police found him and Kazar) that he had killed a woman who was paying him for sex so he could show another woman he could protect her, Dirks said.
Collazo’s attorney, Jeffrey Jensen, elected to give his opening statement after the prosecution rests its case. He expects Collazo, who pleaded not guilty Feb. 8, 2018, and rejected a plea agreement Thursday, to testify during the trial.
Jensen also said he plans to call Kazar as a witness if the prosecution does not.
The defense in court documents filed ahead of the trial argues Kazar, who was in court Monday and is scheduled to return Wednesday afternoon, is the one who really stabbed Scaccia-Lubeck.
His evidence includes a witness who claims to have heard Kazar confess to the killing, according to the defense.
Kazar was convicted of helping Collazo steal Scaccia-Lubeck’s car after the stabbing. Prosecutors say she did not know about the stabbing until later.
Dirks, who is prosecuting the case with District Attorney David O’Leary, said Collazo met Kazar about five or six days before the stabbing. She was homeless and addicted to crack cocaine, and Dirks said Collazo “became infatuated with her. He wanted to become her pimp.”
Dirks wanted the jury to keep three points in mind.
The first was the span of time Collazo and Kazar were communicating by phone call, text message and video chat—from at least 4:11 p.m. Dec. 8, 2017, until 9:52 that night. It’s a key time period in question for this case.
“In other words, they’re not together,” Dirks said, appearing to try and undercut the defense’s case that Kazar was in the home for the stabbing.
Secondly, Dirks pointed to the different stories Collazo told police.
And finally, there’s the physical evidence, which include Collazo’s DNA being found on beer cans in Scaccia-Lubeck’s trash, her pubic area and under her fingernails.
The physical evidence also includes the shoes, which Janesville identification officer Edward Van Fossen showed the jury.
Three officers from the Janesville Police Department testified Monday about the crime scene, which included blood in the bathroom, hallway and bedroom where the victim was found.
Scaccia-Lubeck’s mother, Diane Somers, was the first witness to testify Monday. She was one of the last people to speak to Scaccia-Lubeck before she died.
She tearfully recalled finding her daughter’s body. After apparently calling 911, she remembered being told to try CPR, to which she said, “It won’t help. She’s ice cold. She’s dead.”
Deborah Scaccia, the victim’s sister, remembered that Scaccia-Lubeck told her about Collazo a week before the stabbing. He had stolen from her, and Scaccia told her not to talk to him anymore, she said.
The jury, which has two alternates, is made up of 10 women and four men. Judge Barbara McCrory is presiding over the trial, which resumes at 8:30 a.m. today.