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Cousin Confronted Fujita About Murder Hours After Astley's Body was Found

Nathaniel Fujita's cousin said on the the stand Friday that she confronted him about calling her to "hang out" the night prosecutors say he killed 18-year-old Lauren Astley.

Caroline Saba said she asked Nathaniel Fujita on July 4, 2011, whether police would find anything at his house connecting him to the death of Lauren Astley.

He replied that police wouldn't find a weapon there.

Such was the testimony Saba, Fujita's cousin, offered Friday in Fujita's first-degree murder trial. Fujita is being charged in connection with the July 3, 2011, death of Astley, his ex-girlfriend and fellow Wayland High School Class of 2011 graduate.

Astley's body was found in a Wayland marsh on July 4, 2011, and jurors learned Friday that Fujita called and asked Saba to "hang out" just an hour or so after prosecutors say he killed Astley.

Throughout his cousin's testimony Friday, Fujita sat at the defendant's table with his head deeply bowed and apparently emotional. His mother, Beth Fujita, seemed to make it through the testimony but broke into loud sobs after court adjourned Friday.

Saba testified that Fujita called his mother's cell phone at about 8 p.m. on Sunday, July 3. At that time, Fujita asked to speak with his cousin.

"I told him I planned to go to Brookline with some friends," Saba said. "He said 'Never mind, I was going to ask you if you wanted to hang out, but never mind."

Saba didn't see her cousin again until the evening of July 4, when he arrived at Saba's parents' Framingham home at about 6 p.m. looking, "like he might have been crying or that he was going to cry."

Later that night, Saba said she was packing a bag in her upstairs bedroom when she asked Fujita, "How he could call me last night and ask me to hang out?"

When pressed by Lisa McGovern to explain what she meant by that question, Saba responded, "Having done what I was beginning to realize he had done, I was asking how he could possibly have called me to hang out," Saba said.

According to Saba, Fujita also told her during this conversation that he had taken Astley's Jeep to the Wayland Town Beach parking lot, where it was found abandoned on July 3, hours before Astley's body was found in the marsh at about 7 a.m. on July 4.

Upon cross-examination by defense attorney William Sullivan, Saba said that she noticed a marked change in Fujita's demeanor when she came home from college in May 2011.

She agreed with Sullivan's assessment that Fujita seemed "depressed, down" in May and June 2011. Saba also said Fujita appeared to be using "more and more" marijuana during that time.

The bulk of testimony Friday came from Saba, though the day began with her father, Philip Saba, on the stand, and ended with Hannah Blahut, a close friend of Astley's, testifying.

For a detailed recap of the day's testimony, check out the Wayland Murder Trial Live Blog from Feb. 22. Patch is in the courtroom providing regular live updates throughout the trial.

Testimony will resume, with Blahut on the stand, on Monday, Feb. 25.

Richard P Turner February 23, 2013 at 04:07 PM
Great Coverage Brooklyn it must be very hard on both families to sit in the court room and listen to all the testimony it is like reliving that awful day again in times like this families must be strong.

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