Trial begins for man accused of killing female friend, stuffing - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Trial begins for man accused of killing female friend, stuffing body in suitcase

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Graphic Content Warning: Be advised this story contains graphic details about the crime and may be upsetting to some readers. 

SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8/CNS) - A downtown resident beat, raped and strangled a female friend after watching her have sex with two other people, then stuffed her body in a suitcase and put it out with the trash, a prosecutor said Monday, but a defense attorney said her client was "heartbroken" and "humiliated" when the woman he loved made fun of his sexual inadequacies.

In his opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle alleged that Joshua Matthew Palmer videotaped himself doing "unspeakable things" to Shauna Haynes' body after he killed her at the Chadwick Hotel in San Diego.

"You and I will never have the opportunity to meet Shauna Haynes because, in the early hours of April 5, 2016, the defendant Joshua Palmer beat her, raped her, sodomized her, and strangled her to death," said Doyle.

Palmer, 34, then stuffed the 21-year-old victim's body into a suitcase and threw it in a hotel trash bin, Doyle alleged in his opening statement.

The deputy medical examiner testified Haynes was murdered by strangulation and discussed results from a toxicology report saying it was negative for "alcohol, drugs of abuse and medications."

The prosecutor said Palmer went out the night of April 4, 2016, and met a woman, Chelsea Shea, who intended to have sex with him back in his room, but the defendant was unable to get aroused.

Haynes and a man she had met that night, Anthony Kern, arrived at Palmer's room and started having sex, and Shea eventually joined in, the prosecutor told the jury. At some point, Palmer sent Haynes a text saying, "I can't watch you have sex with another man."

Doyle said Palmer got upset and kicked Kern and Shea out, but Haynes - who worked with Palmer at a downtown restaurant and had a platonic relationship with the defendant - stayed in the room.

The prosecutor said Palmer went out later on April 5, 2016, telling friends how proud he was of the "foursome" he was in earlier.

Doyle said Palmer threw all of Haynes' belongings away and his DNA was found on her private areas.

Palmer lied to police after the crime, but it was "impossible to cover up," the prosecutor alleged.

The trash bin containing the victim's body was never picked up and two men saw the suitcase with what they thought were body parts sticking out and called 911, Doyle said.

A 911 call from one worker who made the discovery was played in court.

"Originally, I went down to put it in in the trash can, but it had weight to it," said hotel employee Phillip Moore. "I dropped it, looked at it and noticed you could see the seam had hair in it."

The prosecutor said Palmer should be convicted of murder and murder during a rape, murder during sodomy and murder during a rape by an instrument.

He faces life in prison without parole if he's found guilty.

Deputy Public Defender Katie Belisle told the jury that Palmer and Haynes met at the Spaghetti Factory downtown and he fell in love with her.

Despite his small, one-room hotel room, Haynes wanted to move in with the defendant, Belisle said.

Belisle said Palmer was "humiliated" when Haynes said, "He can't get it up," as she had sex with the other man.

The lawyer said Palmer felt rejected.

"Josh felt trapped," said Belisle. "There's not another room to escape to. He felt that all he could do is stand there and watch as the girl he brought home, and the girl he was in love with, had sex with a random man on his bed in his room. He was heartbroken."

The defense attorney said Haynes had been having sex with other men and there was no evidence to prove when she suffered injuries to her vaginal and anal areas. Belisle urged jurors to find her client not guilty.

Prosecutors also played a 911 call made by Palmer reporting Haynes as missing after a night of drugs and drinking.

He also claimed he made the report after hearing about the discovery of the body on the news.

"She left me on Tuesday morning when she was drunk, or coming off of being drunk, and other drugs," Palmer is heard saying on the call.

When asked what drugs, Palmer said "cocaine."

"I loved this little girl," Palmer told the dispatcher. "I just want to know she's okay."

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