Longtime Cedarwood resident may have seen Lawrence murder victim kissing an unknown man, he testifies
photo by: Mackenzie Clark
A longtime resident of Lawrence’s Cedarwood Apartments testified Tuesday that he saw a woman kiss an unknown man outside of apartment 13 about a week before her slain body was found inside its bathroom.
David Brown, who lived on the building’s third floor back in November 2014 when Justina Altamirano Mosso was murdered, testified that he told police he had seen a woman kissing and embracing a tall, athletic-looking, well-groomed black man outside of apartment 13 sometime in the early part of that month.
He said he was returning from work one afternoon, roughly a week before Mosso’s body was found on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014, when he saw the young woman and the man outside the door to the apartment, and it looked like they were unlocking the door to enter, though he didn’t actually see them go inside.
photo by: Contributed photos
Mosso is believed to have died two days earlier, on Friday, Nov. 7, 2014. She was found bludgeoned and stabbed to death, slumped against the bathtub and bathroom wall inside apartment 13. It was a small studio where she had lived with her husband, Felipe Cantu Ruiz, until about a month before her death when she moved in with her cousin.
On the day of her death, Mosso had returned to the apartment because Cantu Ruiz had said he was moving to Manhattan. She was going to grab a couple of chairs because they needed some in her cousin’s apartment.
Cantu Ruiz has testified that the couple’s marriage was bad and that Mosso had cheated on him multiple times. Mosso was allegedly having an affair with a man named Fernando Martinez, but he was working at the time of Mosso’s death. He did not match the description Brown provided.
Rontarus Washington Jr., 23, another neighbor on the third floor, is charged with first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in connection with Mosso’s death. In the alternative, Washington is charged with first-degree felony murder. According to Douglas County Jail records, Washington is 5 feet 3 inches tall. Brown said Washington was not the man he had seen.
Brown said police never asked him any more questions about what he told them.
Lawrence Police Detective Sam Hiatt, who has testified previously in the case, returned Tuesday to discuss what he had heard from a neighbor during a canvass of the complex on Monday, Nov. 10, 2014.
Hiatt said he had spoken with a neighbor on Cedarwood’s first floor, William Enick. Enick had told him about seeing a “noticeably thin” Hispanic man, about 5 feet 7 inches tall, in the complex parking lot during the prior weekend. Hiatt said Enick had told him he’d seen the man smiling, but he appeared “aggressive” and said something to the effect of “What are you up to?”
photo by: Mackenzie Clark
Enick did not mention anything about Washington during that interview, Hiatt said. Hiatt had asked whether Enick had seen anything “unusual” that weekend, and he said he hadn’t seen anything “suspicious.”
The defense rested Tuesday morning. Washington told the judge he did not want to testify.
Attorneys worked through the morning to prepare for closing arguments and finalize jury instructions. The jurors are expecting to hear instructions and closing arguments Tuesday afternoon and begin deliberations afterward.
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