Courtrooms can be magnetic, never more so than during closing arguments. Sometimes attorneys employ phrases that resonate with jurors. Perhaps the most famous is Johnnie Cochran’s line in his closing for O.J. Simpson’s trial. Referring to the glove Simpson failed to slip on his hand, Cochran said, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
In the spring of 2014, I listened to Harris County prosecutor John Jordan transport a Houston, Texas, jury back in time to eleven months earlier, to the June day Ana Trujillo pummeled a former lover, Stefan Andersson, to death with her size nine, cobalt blue stiletto heel.
The killing unfolded in a posh high-rise, and the crime scene photos ranked among the goriest I’d ever encountered. Blood spatter covered all three walls surrounding the body. Coagulating, drying blood puddled near Andersson’s head. Ghastly cuts and bruises riddled his face, head, arms and hands.
I'm tripping on Ana Trujillo, the Stiletto Killer pic.twitter.com/hwgAx9WbfY
— BEE SMITH (@BeeZired) April 26, 2015
More blood covered Ana Trujillo, saturating her fashionable jeans, speckling her arms, smeared on her hands, streaked on her face.
At one point in the trial, Jordon perched on his knees straddling a mannequin to reenact the murder, commenting on the force Trujillo must have used. Holding the partner to the murder weapon in his hand, he brought it down heel first again and again, twenty-five times, all the while describing how the blood must have scattered and the rage that must have fueled such a brutal killing.
The big question, of course: Who would do such a thing? Jordan argued someone out of touch with the real world.
From the night of her arrest, Trujillo consistently claimed that Andersson, a 59-year-old research scientist and professor, attacked her, and she’d been forced to fight back in self-defense. Jordan didn’t buy that argument, and for his closing he used two words to draw a highly effective image of Trujillo’s state of mind: “Ana’s world.”
To paint a picture for jurors, Jordan relied on Trujillo’s hours-long recorded interview with detectives. In response to questions, she constantly segued off to her past. She talked little of the dead man, whom she described as her fiancé and said she loved, but of others she’d encountered.
Starting in childhood, through her twenties, and thirties, Ana Trujillo amassed a long list of men she blamed for all the ills of her life. She talked of her father, of her first husband, of a string of lovers and friends she claimed idolized and pursued her. And in every instance, when she rebuffed them, they turned on her. In such relationships, Trujillo claimed she suffered abuse. Through it all, she held herself blameless.
When asked about the killing, she said the same regarding her relationship with Stefan Andersson, insisting that he’d loved her and wanted to possess her. His obsession with her, she said, turned him into a violent man. This contradicted evidence and testimony that Andersson feared Ana Trujillo and wanted her out of his life.
“Welcome to Ana’s world,” John Jordan said in that eloquent closing. “You see, in Ana’s world, whatever the scenario, she’s the victim.”
For the next half hour, Jordan pointed out inconsistencies between the evidence – the real world – and “Ana’s world,” the fantasies of a woman who lived in her own reality, one who never held herself accountable for the troubles that befell her or the crimes she committed.
In the courtroom, those two words held a certain power. They streamlined and simplified. Jordan succinctly summarized one of Texas’s most infamous murder cases by pointing out to jurors: “Because in Ana’s world, it has nothing to do with the fact that you hit somebody 25 times about the face that caused the death. It’s someone else’s fault.”
When he asked for a guilty verdict, Jordan reminded jurors that they lived in Texas, “…not in Ana’s world.”
Click here to read an excerpt of POSSESSED: The Infamous Stiletto Murder.
[Feature Photo: YouTube/Kathryn Casey]