The jury trial began last week for Aubrey Wadford, arrested in October 2014 for allegedly murdering his former girlfriend while their baby daughter slept in the next room.
Angela Laskey was found stabbed to death in her apartment after law enforcement responded to a domestic disturbance call. Wadford had been living at Laskey’s Santa Barbara apartment to help care for their two-year-old child, but both attorneys and witnesses described their relationship as extremely tumultuous.
The week in court consisted of opening statements made by Deputy District Attorney Hannah Lucy and Deputy Public Defender Mindi Boulet, as well as a host of witnesses called by the prosecution.
On Thursday, Lucy brought in Laskey’s next-door neighbor Kelly Whitaker, who testified that she woke up at 1:30 a.m. on October 29 to the sound of loud screaming. She and her boyfriend called 9-1-1 and watched through their peephole with concern as police arrived at their apartment complex. Whitaker noted how she had regularly heard arguments coming from Laskey’s apartment, often hearing her shout “Please get out!”
Officer Blake Burgard also testified on Thursday, describing to the jury the gory scene he witnessed when he and officer Nathan Beltran arrived at Laskey’s residence. After the officers knocked on the door for several minutes, Wadford opened it slightly. As they attempted to step through, they felt resistance on the other side of the door, which they soon discovered was due to Laskey’s limp legs partially blocking the entryway. Burgard described Wadford as standing in the living room covered in blood and moving to light a bloody cigarette he had put to his mouth.
As Beltran handcuffed Wadford, Burgard went to check in the bedroom for the baby that Wadford said was in the apartment. Burgard found the young girl awake and unharmed. Burgard then went on to explain how he tried to administer first aid to Laskey, taking long, somber pauses as he described his failed attempts at CPR and how he used a nearby baby blanket to stop the bleeding from lacerations that circled her neck. After paramedics arrived and declared Laskey dead, Burgard checked once more on her daughter, who had fallen asleep. He stood guard by her bedroom door until Child Welfare Services personnel arrived so she would not see the bloody scene.
The prosecution brought out several photos for Beltran to inspect that depicted blood on the bed, throughout the kitchen, in the doorway, and covering Laskey’s neck. Burgard became noticeably emotional when Lucy showed him an image of a kitchen knife covered in blood that had been left next to a photo of Laskey and Wadford’s baby. A light blue frame surrounded the photo that read: “Good things will happen today.”
On Friday, the prosecution called Nathaniel Phillips, who had been in a relationship with Laskey shortly before her murder. Phillips described instances where he saw conflict arise between Wadford and Laskey, including a time when Laskey found a threatening note on the windshield of her car when it was parked outside of Phillips’s Lompoc home. Phillips recalled Laskey feeling scared, saying, “I don’t know how he found me.” Phillips also recalled speaking with Laskey after she had called 9-1-1 in response to her home being vandalized. He noticed bruises along her arms and legs that looked as if someone had grabbed her. On the night of the murder, Phillips received a text from Laskey saying, “I so need to get out of here,” but he did not see it until the next morning.
During the defense’s cross-examination, Boulet tried to undermine Phillips’s character by drawing attention to the fact that he had been married at the time of his relationship with Laskey. Boulet also questioned Phillips about text messages he received from Laskey a month before her death, which said things like “I want to stab him” and “I’m going to snap soon.” Phillips responded by saying how Laskey would never actually act in a violent manner and that her words were coming from a place of immense frustration over the stressful situation with Wadford.
Testimony continued Monday morning, and the trial is expected to last through May.