Judge Hears Witness Sequestering, Other Motions in Final Pre-Trial Hearing
The trial for Nathaniel Fujita, accused in the 2011 murder of Lauren Astey, is scheduled to begin Feb. 11.
Lawyers for both sides appeared in a Middlesex Superior courtroom Monday to present motions related to what evidence will and won't be allowed when Nathaniel Fujita's trial begins on Feb. 11.
Fujita, a 2011 Wayland High School graduate, is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend Lauren Astley on July 3, 2011. Her body was discovered in a Wayland marsh by a passerby on July 4.
Judge Peter Lauriat granted a number of requests Monday morning, but will hear or revisit several others during a continued hearing on Tuesday morning.
Prosecutor Lisa McGovern led off her list of motions with a request to sequester witnesses in the case, with a few exceptions. Fujita's attorney, William Sullivan, agreed and Lauriat approved the motion.
It has already been noted that there are numerous witnesses expected to appear at trial and some will be coming from out of state to testify.
McGovern also asked approval for jurors to travel to three Wayland locations relevant to the case, including Fujita's family's home and garage at 108 W. Plain St. Again, Sullivan agreed to the request and the judge granted approval.
Some disagreement between sides arose with McGovern's motion related to several postmortem photos she wants to submit.
"When one first looks at the photographs, one may think there are fewer wounds then there were," McGovern said, explaining why shy wants some close-up photos submitted.
Sullivan said he wanted to look at the photos and consider whether he would propose some alternative images instead. Lauriat took no action on the motion.
When it came to Sullivan's motion, several were preliminary, including one for a change of venue, to which McGovern had filed an objection. Sullivan asked the judge to take no action on that particular motion and said he submitted it only as a preliminary action "If it turns out the [pre-trial] publicity has created difficulty in picking a jury."
No action was taken on the change of venue motion.
Sullivan continued with his motions, asking that the prosecution be prohibited from characterizing Fujita's actions on July 4, 2011.
McGovern argued that she would be simply "stating facts" related to that day and the judge reserved taking action on the motion.
After asking to request several motions at Tuesday's hearing, Sullivan then asked the judge to prohibit from evidence a conversation said to have occurred between Beth Fujita, the defendent's mother, and Astley in June 2011.
Sullivan argued that Beth Fujita will not be testifying, therefore records of that conversation would be hearsay gathered from numerous individuals recounting what they'd been told.
McGovern responded that she understood her burden to present evidence that meets legal criteria related to hearsay and would meet that criteria should the need arise.
The hearing is expected to continue Tuesday at 9 a.m.