Jurors in the trial of accused judge stalker Taylar Nuevelle ended their first day of deliberations without delivering a verdict, following Monday afternoon closing arguments from both sides of the case.
On trial in D.C. Superior Court, Nuevelle faces charges of stalking, unlawful entry and burglary for allegedly breaking into the Northwest Washington home of her former girlfriend, D.C. Magistrate Judge Janet Albert. Nuevelle, who was discovered unconscious in Albert’s attic and rushed to the hospital on Sept. 14, 2008, testified that she entered the house so she could gather her belongings following the couple’s breakup.
In her closing argument, Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephanie Brenowitz accused Nuevelle of "waging a campaign to stalk, harass and torment Ms. Albert," after the judge ended their year-old relationship on Sept. 11, 2008. She said Nuevelle sought to "punish" Albert by threatening to publicly humiliate her and breaking into her house twice, once on the night of the breakup and again the next day.
As for Nuevelle’s claim that the two had lived together – in which case she would have had a right to enter the house – Brenowitz dismissed the idea as an “elaborate domestic fantasy.”
The prosecutor reminded jurors of the more than 470 phone calls, 190 text messages and 60 e-mails Nuevelle sent Albert between their breakup and Nov. 3, 2008, when she was arrested. Brenowitz showed photos of the mangled screen Nuevelle allegedly tore off Albert’s back window so she could climb into the house [on the second occasion?], and a photo of the ice bucket Nuevelle had turned into a makeshift toilet while in the attic.
“She was camping in that attic,” Brenowitz said.
She also derided the idea that Nuevelle had held onto her $1,300-a-month apartment as a home office and a place to keep her cat.
“Of course, that makes the least amount of sense of all – a $1,300 apartment for a cat,” she said.
Defense lawyer Dorsey Jones Jr. countered that it was clear Albert and Nuevelle lived together, given how many of Nuevelle’s belongings were at the judge’s house. As evidence, he lugged out a bulky, brown-cardboard UPS box, which Albert had used to ship back 43 pounds of Nuevelle’s things after their breakup. The box, measuring roughly two-feet cubed and still partly stuffed with Styrofoam packing peanuts, had made appearances throughout the trial. Jones told jurors to consider its size and weight, and the fact that Albert had also returned other property in bags.
“The box does not lie,” Jones said.
Jones argued that his client had never intended to stalk Albert. Rather, she went to the house to gather her things on the night of the breakup. He noted that Albert didn’t call the police when she discovered her ex there the next morning.
“The reason she didn’t call the police is because she knew Ms. Nuevelle hadn’t committed a crime,” he said. “She lived there.”
Jones then recounted Nuevelle’s testimony of that day, when she alleged that an enraged Albert threatened to interfere in Nuevelle’s child custody dispute with her ex-husband and to “make sure you never see your son again.” Thinking the threat was real, Nuevelle tried to kill herself with pills and alcohol the next day in the attic, where she thought nobody could stop her, said Jones.
“There’s no intent to stalk,” Jones said. “She’s trying to commit suicide.”
On her rebuttal, Brenowitz said that Albert never threatened Nuevelle and was simply trying to get her to calm down by reminding her she had a son to think about. But she too seized on the brown cardboard box, holding it up again for the jury.
“I don’t know how many times you’ve moved, ladies and gentlemen,” Brenowitz said, “but when I move, my belongings don’t fit in a box and a couple of bags.”
She said Jones was right about one thing: “The box doesn’t lie.”