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Trial Live Blog: Astley's Friend Said Email From Fujita Led to Rekindled Relationship in April 2011

Wayland man Nathaniel Fujita is facing first-degree murder charges arising from the death of Lauren Astley, also of Wayland, in 2011.

Editor's Note: Wayland Patch will post regular updates from the courtroom at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn. The most recent updates will be at the top of the story with a time stamp. For more about this case and trial, see "Wayland Murder: Nathaniel Fujita Trial."

1 p.m. -- Hannah Blahut, a 2011 graduate of Wayland High School, was among the tight-knit group of five girlfriends that included Lauren Astley.

Blahut said that Astley was her best friend. She said that she got to know Fujita around junior year because she was growing closer to Astley and Astley was dating him.

Blahut said she also ran track her junior year and saw Fujita there.

"We were often at parties together and hanging out after school," Blahut said of Fujita.

Asking about the time Fujita spent with his close group of friends, McGovern asked Blahut to characterize the time she saw him spending with those friends through the end of high school.

Blahut said she saw that the relationship remained the same throughout.

Blahut said that she and her group of friends communicated via text, Facebook and a cellphone application called, "What's App?"

Blahut explained that Facebook identifies individuals with names and profile photos.

"Did you ever communicate in any way on Facebook with Nathaniel Fujita?" McGovern asked.

"Yes," Blahut said.

McGovern then showed a photo to Blahut, and Blahut said she recognized it as Fujita's Facebook profile picture. She said it was a photo of Fujita walking his dog during senior prank day at Wayland High School when everyone brought their dogs to school.

Blahut said she knew that Astley and Fujita's relationship ended around April 1, 2011, and they got back together at some point, staying together that time until late May.

"It was a confusing time period," Blahut said.

Blahut then testified that she knew they got back together in April 2011 after Fujita sent Astley an email, which Astley then forwarded to Blahut.

The attorneys are meeting in a sidebar conference.

After the conference, Blahut said she remembered receiving a particular email from Astley on April 25, 2011.

"It was an email from Nate to Lauren," Blahut said.

McGovern showed Blahut a document, and Blahut said she had seen the email before at her house. McGovern then marked the email as evidence.

Blahut said she talked with Astley about the email and that the group of girlfriends also discussed the email.

"[Astley] ultimately went and started seeing Nate again," Blahut said was her friend's response to the aforementioned email. She said the relationship lasted until mid to late May, and that was the last time she ever saw them together as a couple.

Blahut said that she and Astley attended all three Senior Show parties together, as well as the awards night the last week of school. Fujita was also present at all those events.

McGovern then showed Blahut a photo of herself, D.J. Henderson, R.J. Bolivar and Fujita at awards night.

Sullivan objected to the photo being submitted as evidence and the attorneys met in a sidebar conference.

After the conference, the photo was marked for evidence, and Blahut identified for the jury the people in the photo.

At that point, Judge Lauriat adjourned court for the day and week. We'll restart, with Blahut on the stand, at 9 a.m. Monday.

12:36 p.m. -- Sullivan's cross-examination began with a focus on Fujita's behavior and activities prior to his senior year.

Saba testified that her cousin was active, involved, social.

"At some point in the spring of Nathaniel's senior year, did you begin to notice a difference in his demeanor?" Sullivan asked.

Saba said she did notice a difference when she returned home from college in May 2011. She responded in the affirmative when Sullivan asked whether he was "depressed, down" most of the time through his June graduation.

Saba said she noticed his depression more after the school year ended and Fujita was around all the time.

"Did you notice that he was smoking and using more and more marijuana as the summer went on?" Sullivan said.

"Yes," Saba replied.

It was around this time, Saba said, that Beth Fujita asked her to check Nathaniel Fujita's cell phone for text message exchanges with Astley.

Saba agreed that Fujita's condition had "gotten significantly worse," by the time she agreed to look at his text messages.

Sullivan asked whether Saba was worried about him and therefore decided to check his texts, which Saba said she did.

Sullivan again displayed the exhibit featuring texts; this time the texts were identified as having taken place between Astley and Fujita.

"To me, it just seemed like it was getting worse by the day," Saba said of Fujita's depression.

She said his behavior was significantly different from what he had done the summer before. Saba said he basically ate, slept, went to the gym and hung out with her.

Saba said that it was infrequent -- two to three times -- that Fujita helped with the projects around the home.

"Other than that, pretty much doing nothing?" Sullivan asked.

"Yeah," Saba said.

In regards to the July 2 beach trip, Saba said she encouraged Fujita to come along.

"I just wanted to get him out of the house," Saba said. "I knew he hadn't gone to the beach at all that summer. He hadn't really gotten out of the house except to go to the gym."

Saba reiterated that the drive down to Mashpee on July was normal -- Fujita was quiet as he had been all summer.

Saba agreed with Sullivan's question that Fujita's mood got better after he smoked marijuana at the beach.

Saba said his mood fluctuated that day, up sometimes and down others.

Turning to the July 3 party at the Saba's Framingham home, Sullivan asked whether Saba was conscious of Fujita's mood at the party. Saba said that she was and possibly spent more time than usual with him at that party in an effort to help him.

Saba testified that Fujita said he might come back to the Saba household after he went to the mall.

"No indication that there was any anger or that he was upset?" Sullivan asked.

"No," Saba said.

Saba stated again that she didn't see Fujita again until she returned home on July 4, after receiving a phone call from her parents.

"Would it be fair to say it was a very confusing, upsetting scene at your house at that point?" Sullivan asked.

"Yes," Saba said.

Sullivan asked about the statements Fujita made to Saba in her bedroom that night and characterized the interaction as "emotional," which Saba agreed with.

Sullivan reminded Saba that, in describing Fujita's voice on the phone the night of July 3, she said he sounded, "Not nervous, but not exactly calm either. I don't really know."

Saba said she didn't really know how to characterize his voice, but that it sounded different.

Sullivan ended his questions asking whether Saba ever saw Fujita's friends come to his house while she was working there that summer.

"No," Saba said.

McGovern redirected the questioning to ask about Fujita's academic performance in the spring of his senior year.

Saba said she knew his grade in his environmental science class had plummeted.

"Did he seem to be very studious and putting a lot of effort into his homework during his spring term of high school?" McGovern asked.

"Not during May," Saba said, assenting that she attributed that at least in part to "senioritis."

McGovern asked whether Saba knew that Fujita's group of friends sometimes liked to hang out apart from Fujita.

Saba replied that she was aware of that come June 2011.

Referring to the texts that Saba said she read, she testified that she did read one from Astley to Fujita that read, "Why are you being so hostile?"

Saba said she didn't ask him about it.

McGovern concluded her questioning and called Hannah Blahut to the stand at 12:35 p.m.

12 p.m. -- Restarting testimony, McGovern asked Saba about the phone calls Beth Fujita received the evening of July 3. Saba said she, herself, didn't speak with anyone during the first phone call, but that Beth Fujita gave her the phone the second time.

Nathaniel Fujita was on the other end.

"He asked what I was doing that night," Saba said, of the conversation they had at that point on the phone.

"I told him I planned to go to Brookline with some friends," Saba said.

"He said 'Nevermind, I was going to ask you if you wanted to hang out, but nevermind,'" Saba said.

When asked about Fujita's tone, Saba replied, "He sounded, like, hyper. He sounded different. He wasn't as monotone as he usually is."

McGovern repeated, "Hyper?" with surprise and asked whether Saba remembered previously testifying that he didn't sound different.

She again showed Saba previous testimony from Aug. 4, 2011, in which Saba said he sounded normal.

Saba said she remembered saying that, "but didn't really know how to characterize it" when McGovern asked that question Aug. 4.

Saba spent the night of July 3 at her boyfriend's house, but received a phone call from her parents July 4, during which they told her they were going to pick up Tomo Fujita at the Wayland Police Station and that Lauren Astley was missing.

"I was confused about what Nathaniel had to do with her missing and also where she could be," Saba said. She headed back to her parents' home in Framingham after that phone call.

Saba said she learned at some point that evening that Astley had died, but didn't know that when she returned to her parents' house at 5:30 p.m. on July 4.

McGovern showed Saba her Aug. 4 testimony again, and then Saba repeated that she didn't know Astley was dead at that point, and as she continued to speak, Sullivan quickly objected.

Saba then testified about what Fujta looked like when he arrived at her parents' house around 6 p.m. on July 4.

"He looked like he might have been crying or that he was going to cry," Saba said.

Saba was home when police first came to the house at about 7 p.m. Saba said she left that evening to pick up Fujita's younger brother from a friend's house.

When she returned home, Fujita was at the kitchen counter eating leftover steak and salad. Saba said she sat next to him and joined the conversation taking place among Fujita; Stephanie, Saba's sister; and Stephanie's boyfriend, Ben.

Fujita wasn't wearing a shirt at the time, Saba said.

"At first I observed that he had gotten a lot bigger," Saba said, mentioning his muscles. "I also looked over his arms to see if I saw any scratches or anything. I think I saw one scratch, but I didn't know why or where it was from."

Saba testified that there was tension in the room at that time.

Saba said Tomo Fujita left for his Wayland home at some point to get clothes and let the dog out, but he returned quickly and said he couldn't enter the home because it was being searched.

After eating in the kitchen, Saba said, Fujita went into the living room with Joyce Saba and appeared to listen as his aunt read passages from the Bible.

At some point, Saba said, she went upstairs to start packing a bag since she wasn't staying at home that night. While she was packing a bag, Fujita entered her room.

"First I was helping him look for clothing -- clothes to sleep in," Saba said. "I think this might have been so he could shower and then change into clean clothes."

After the search for new clothes, Saba testified that Fujita sat on her bed while she was packing her bag.

"I wanted to change, so I asked him if he would turn around and not look while I changed," Saba said. "He kinda laughed a little and said 'I remember we used to do that when we had sleepovers when we were younger.'

"I think we just talked about other memories ... sleepovers together, what we would do," Saba continued.

Saba then said she asked Fujita, "How Lauren's car had got to town beach."

"I asked him why he called me to hang out the night before," Saba continued.

McGovern questioned whether those were Saba's exact words and then presented her a document with her previous testimony on it.

Saba read over the testimony before McGovern asked, "What did you ask him?" again.

"I asked him how he could call me last night and ask me to hang out?" Saba said.

"What did you mean by that?" McGovern said.

"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.

Saba said she didn't convey her feelings at that time, but she thought it "was implied by her tone of voice."

"He said he just needed somebody to hang out with -- he just needed to get his mind off it," Saba said.

Saba said she didn't ask him about what was going on at his home at that time, but McGovern showed her prior testimony again.

"I asked him if the police were going to find anything at his house when they were searching it," Saba said.

Looking at the testimony again, Saba changed her statement. "I asked him if they were going to find anything at the house that was going to connect him to Lauren Astley's death," Saba said.

Fujita replied that they wouldn't find a weapon there, Saba testified.

Fujita asked her for information at that point, Saba testified.

Saba testified that Fujita said, "It was me," when she asked him how Astley's Jeep got to Wayland Town Beach.

As she got ready to leave, Saba said she hugged Fujita as she left her room.

They hugged again downstairs in the kitchen before she left.

Saba said she has maintained contact with Fujita since his arrest in the early morning hours of July 5, 2011, seeing and speaking with him regularly.

Saba said that she prepared meals for the Fujita family sometimes during her time spent hanging out and working there, and McGovern asked her to describe where the knives were kept in the kitchen.

"In a drawer to the left of the sink," Saba said. "Regular steak knives and bigger carving knives."

McGovern concluded her questioning with that and Sullivan began his cross-examination.

11:03 a.m. -- Caroline Saba, daughter of Philip and Joyce Saba and cousin to the defendant, took the stand at 10:11 a.m.

Saba graduated from Wayland High School in 2009.

Caroline Saba said she grew up spending a lot of time with her half-sister, Lisa Venuto, from her father's previous marriage. She also said that she spent a lot of time with Lisa Venuto's step-daughter, Alesia Venuto. She said she spent less time with Alesia Venuto in the past year than in previous years.

Saba said she was close to Fujita and would call him and text him often.

"You've seen him at family events all your life?" McGovern said.

"Yes," Saba replied.

Saba said she returned to the Wayland area from college in early May 2011, at which point, she said she saw Fujita often. She said she was at the Fujita house almost five days a week helping Beth Fujita with various home projects, such as painting the porch or the basement.

Saba said Fujita sometimes helped with those projects. Fujita, Saba said, also babysat for Lisa Venuto's two sons during June 2011.

McGovern asked what Saba noticed about Fujita's interactions with his parents in May and June 2011.

"It seemed kind of just a normal teenage boy," Saba said, adding that he could be disagreeable. "He would bicker sometimes with his mom" over things like helping on home projects or getting a job.

Saba said that she got to know Lauren Astley during her senior year of high school, when Astley and Fujita were sophomores. She said she believed their relationship lasted about three years.

"What I knew, it was consistent," Saba said of the relationship. "I think I knew of one breakup along the way, but they were back together within a week."

Saba said that Fujita told her about a breakup with Astley in spring 2011. Saba said that Fujita told her he was going to the mall to return a pair of sunglasses he'd gotten her for her birthday.

"At that time he didn't appear to be unhappy because he was just going to get himself a pair of sunglasses instead," Saba said.

"He never made it clear what he was unhappy about," Saba said. "But I think he was unhappy."

Saba said that she believes that was the only time they ever spoke about the breakup.

"Did you ever on any occasion look at Nathaniel Fujita's cell phone?" McGovern asked.

Saba said she had because Fujita's mother, Beth Fujita, asked her to look at any texts Fujita might have been sharing with Lauren Astley, because "she was really curious" what was being said.

Saba said she looked at his phone once, without Fujita's knowledge, while it was in his room. She then looked at a list of texts that McGovern showed her. She said she saw texts from June 27, between 12:34 p.m. and 3:44 p.m.

McGovern showed the texts to the jury, but they were unreadable from the courtroom gallery. No one said who the texts were between.

On July 2, 2011, Saba said she picked up Fujita to go to the beach on Cape Cod. The night before, July 1, Saba said she and Fujita watched TV together in his basement.

"It was enjoyable," Saba said. That night, they decided that they would accept an invitation from Alesia Venuto to go to the beach the next day.

Saba said they left for the beach at about 11 a.m. on Saturday, July 2, and arrived at the beach around 2 p.m.

"We were mostly listening to music," Saba said, of the ride to the beach. "It was normal conversation, nothing that stood out."

Saba said nothing stood out to her about Fujita during that ride.

When they arrived at the beach, there was no parking, Saba said, so they left their car at Venuto's grandparents' house in Mashpee. The grandparents dropped them off at the beach.

Once at the beach, Fujita and Saba played football for about 20 minutes, the witness said. Saba said that Fujita was able interact and play football normally.

"What did the defendant say about Lauren Astley?" Sullivan asked, referring to a question Venuto asked Fujita.

Saba said that Fujita responded they had been broken up for awhile. She said that she didn't remember Fujita's tone of voice at that time.

McGovern showed Saba testimony from an Aug. 4, 2011, hearing and asked, "Can you describe the tone of voice?"

"I don't know how to describe the tone of voice, but it was 'No, we broke up a while ago. I thought you knew that,'" Saba said, adding that she got the impression he didn't want to talk about it.

Saba said she rarely asked him about Astley, knowing that he didn't want to talk about it.

At the beach, Saba said, Venuto wanted to introduce Fujita to a lifeguard she knew since they were the same age.

"He said 'hi' to her and was perfectly nice, but didn't really show any interest," Saba said. "I think he laughed when Alesia said she wanted him to meet this girl."

Saba said they left the beach at about 4 p.m. and returned to Venuto's grandparents' house.

Fujita talked with Venuto's grandparents about his plans to play football at Trinity College, Saba said.

Saba said they joked with him later about "dumping him with the grandparents" while she and Venuto changed clothes.

The three then went to Mashpee Commons where they spent a couple of hours and got ice cream.

"Nathaniel paid for his own ice cream? Had no problem eating the ice cream, interacting with the clerk," McGovern asked.

"No," Saba said.

The three relatives then visited a kaleidoscope store and a clothing store, Vineyard Vines. At the clothing store, the girls joked with Fujita that he should buy some of the preppy clothes there since that's what everyone at Trinity College wore.

Saba said Fujita laughed along with the girls.

Fujita drove himself and Saba home from the beach at about 7 p.m. that night. She dropped Fujita off at his Wayland home and she returned to the Saba residence in Framingham. She spent the night at her boyfriend's house that night.

On July 3, Saba said she returned to her parents' home, in anticipation of a family barbecue, at about 10 a.m. She said she didn't remember when Fujita arrived at the party.

McGovern then showed Saba previous testimony and she then testified that Fujita arrived with his family at about 3 p.m.

"I think I commented on his haircut," Saba said. "He'd never had it that short, that's why it stuck out to me."

Saba said Fujita responded to her comment about his haircut with a laugh.

During the party, Saba said she spent most of her time in the kitchen. She said she also went with Fujita to watch TV in the living room and into the basement to play the keyboard.

Saba said playing the keyboard was Fujita's idea.

"Did you see him socializing with your mom and your dad and your uncle?" McGovern asked.

"Yes," Saba responded. "He appeared normal."

Saba said she did not see Fujita drink alcohol at the party and never noticed the smell of alcohol on his breath. She never saw him smoke marijuana that day either, but Saba said she did see him smoke marijuana at the beach on July 2.

Saba said that it wasn't the first time she'd seen Fujita "get high" and didn't notice anything unusual about it that day at the beach.

Saba said Fujita spent a couple of hours at the family barbecue on July 3, and that he left alone from the party.

"He said he was going to GNC at the mall," Saba said. "Nothing stuck out to me [about his behavior when he left]. No notable expression."

Saba said that after Fujita left, Saba saw Beth Fujita speak on her cell phone twice, but she didn't remember the times she saw that occur.

Again showing Saba previous testimony, McGovern asked Saba whether it refreshed her memory.

Saba said that there was about an hour between those phone calls.

Morning recess time. Back in 15 minutes.

10:11 a.m. -- Sullivan began by addressing Saba's awareness of Fujita's depression, which Saba repeated that he learned about through his wife, who spoke daily with her sister, Beth Fujita.

"You testified that you were concerned about Nathaniel Fujita's depression," Sullivan said. "Were you concerned about his depression in late June, early July 2011?"

"Yes," Saba said, adding that he was concerned during the cookout he held at his house on July 3.

Saba then testified that he talked about his concerns with other family members during the cookout.

Asking questions about the family relationships, McGovern said that his wife, Joyce, was very close with her younger sister, Beth Fujita.

"The two of them would talk every day for hours?" Sullivan asked.

"Yes," Saba said.

"Would it be fair to say that Tomo speaks broken English?" Sullivan continued. "He's a native of Japan."

"Yes," Saba replied.

Saba said that the Saba and Fujita families were very close and even shared a three-story house in Brighton at one point. When the Saba's moved to Wayland, the Fujita's moved soon after.

In 2011, Saba testified, Fujita seemed to open up more to him but, Saba clarified under Sullivan's questioning, he wasn't saying that Fujita's depression was getting better.

Sullivan continued asking about the conversations and relationship Fujita and his uncle had. In particular, Sullivan asked whether they discussed the injuries that Fujita sustained playing football.

"When you talked to him about his injuries, he outlined a number of different injuries that he had sustained in football?" Sullivan asked, at which point McGovern objected and requested a sidebar conference with Judge Peter Lauriat.

Sullivan asked whether discussions about Fujita's football injuries occurred during his senior year, and Saba responded that they had.

Sullivan then questioned Saba on when he'd seen Fujita in 2011, specifically whether he'd seen him while Saba did work at the Fujita house, but Saba said he didn't remember.

Turning then to a family graduation party on June 5, Sullivan asked about Fujita's behavior.

"Would you describe his demeanor there as depressed or somewhat depressed?" Sullivan asked.

"He appeared depressed, kinda looking down," Saba said, assenting that he didn't act like the life of the party. "He didn't make eye contact."

Saba said he didn't remember a specific time he saw Fujita again until the July 3 cookout at the Saba residence in Framingham.

"In light of what your concerns were ... was it part of your plan to try and engage him and try and keep him up?" Sullivan asked, questioning how Saba interacted with Fujita on the day of the July 3 cookout.

Saba replied that was true.

Sullivan then asked about the conversation at the kitchen table that Saba testified about under McGovern's questioning on Thursday.

"You said yesterday that he seemed happy at that point," Sullivan said. "He hadn't really seemed happy at that cookout until you mentioned football?"

Saba said that was true, and testified that Sullivan was correct that the conversation did turn to Fujita's future.

"You talked to him about going to Trinity College to play football," Sullivan said.

This entire conversation took place in the Saba kitchen, the witness said.

Saba said that Fujita asked his daughter, Caroline (Fujita's cousin) if she wanted to go to the mall with him at that point. She was busy, however, and didn't go, so Fujita left.

Saba testified that Fujita didn't seem angry at that point.

"He seemed to you, a little bit better than when he got there?" Sullivan asked.

"To me, yes," Saba said.

Sullivan turned his attention next to July 4, when Saba and his wife picked up Tomo Fujita at the Wayland Police station and then to the defendant and his mother's arrival at the Saba residence later that night.

"Would it be fair to say that they appeared devastated?" Sullivan asked, about the arrival of Beth Fujita and Nathaniel Fujita. "When they came in looking devastated, the house kind of went into turmoil?"

"Yes," Saba said.

The cross-examination ended with the Sullivan recapping the police arriving to arrest Fujita at the Saba residence.

McGovern asked to publish phone and text records from June 11 to July 4.

Then Caroline Saba was called to the stand.

9:40 a.m. -- McGovern picked up where she left off yesterday, asking whether Saba and his wife went grocery shopping on July 4 (they did) and to Home Depot. But Saba said they never made it to Home Depot as they were interrupted by a text to his wife, Joyce, from Tomo Fujita, the defendant's father.

Saba testified that at about 4 p.m., he and his wife picked up Tomo Fujita at the Wayland Police Station.

McGovern asked whether Saba had a six-minute conversation with Beth Fujita that day, to which Saba said he didn't remember. He said he tried to call Beth Fujita to clarify that he was going to pick up Tomo Fujita, but cell reception was "garbled."

"Jamie Berger asked us if we knew where Beth and Nate were," Saba said, talking about when he picked up Tomo Fujita at the Wayland PD.

"I said they might have been talking to her brother, George," Saba said.

Saba said they drove past the Fujita home in Wayland, but didn't drop off Tomo Fujita.

"He didn't want to go to his house," Saba said. "We decided to go to our house."

Saba said they noticed a police car at the Fujita residence, but that he couldn't remember if that influenced his decision to not stop there.

They returned to the Saba residence in Framingham. Saba said that at the house initially were Saba and his wife and daughter, Caroline, as well as Tomo Fujita.

The defendant came later, Saba said, along with his mother, Beth Fujita.

"They looked run down," Saba said. "They looked tired. They looked kind of despondent."

When the defendant and his mother arrived, Saba said, he said the conversation involved "trying to gather facts and find out what was going on."

Saba said that Fujita remained in the kitchen for about 10 or 15 minutes, and then went into the living room where he read the Bible with Joyce Saba.

"I didn't really focus in on whether he was listening or not," Saba said.

Saba testified that he wasn't paying much attention to what Fujita was doing at that moment, and that Saba himself placed a call to Bill Sullivan, the defense attorney who has represented Fujita throughout this case.

At Saba's mention of calling a lawyer, Sullivan objected to the testimony and asked to meet with the judge in a sidebar.

After the sidebar, McGovern moved on to a new question about Fujita's clothing, but the comment about contacting Sullivan was not stricken from the record.

Saba said he thought that Fujita was wearing an orange Wayland High School T-shirt when he arrived.

McGovern questioned Saba on Fujita's demeanor when he arrived at the Saba residence.

"They looked stressed out -- I don't know how else to explain it," Saba said.

Saba testified that Fujita ate and drank in the kitchen that evening, before he went upstairs several hours later.

McGovern asked whether Saba's daughter, Caroline, went upstairs when Fujita did, to which Saba said he wasn't aware of "where everybody was and what everybody was doing."

Saba said that Caroline left the house at about 10 p.m., but he didn't remember whether she hugged Fujita ("it's a possibility") before she left the house.

The witness said everyone in the household went to bed at about 11 p.m., with Fujita going to sleep in Saba's daughter, Stephanie's, room.

"I just said, 'Try to get some sleep, Nathaniel,'" Saba said, adding that it wasn't unusual that Fujtia didn't reply.

Saba said he was awoken by the doorbell or a knock at 1 a.m., though he didn't know the exact time. At that point, he said he opened his bedroom door and saw Beth Fujita letting the police into the house.

Saba said the police were "very polite, very nice," and told Fujita he was under arrest.

"There was absolutely full compliance," Saba said.

Saba said that was the second time he'd seen police that day. The first time was at about 7 p.m. when they knocked on his door and Saba answered. Saba testified that those officers stayed outside his house until his nephew's arrest.

Saba had trouble estimating how often he saw Fujita throughout the defendant's senior year of high school; he said dozens of times in a variety of contexts.

"Did you become aware that he was feeling depressed or down about certain things?" McGovern asked.

Saba said he knew through his wife, but didn't have personal observations of that or Fujita having trouble with his breakup with Lauren Astley.

The prosecution has ended its questioning and cross-examination began at 9:40 a.m.

9:12 a.m. -- The jury and judge have entered and Fujita's uncle, Philip Saba, has returned to the stand.

9:10 a.m. -- Fujita has entered the courtroom. He's dressed today in a gray suit, blue shirt and tie. He didn't appear to acknowledge his parents, seated in the front row behind him, when he entered.

We're still waiting for the judge and jury.

9 a.m. -- The courtroom is filling up as we await the start of testimony for Friday, Feb. 22.

Nathaniel Fujita's uncle, Philip Saba, will be on the stand to start the day.

At 9 a.m., neither Fujita nor the jury have yet entered the courtroom.

carolbells February 22, 2013 at 02:33 PM
does he normally acknowledge his parents?
Barbara Summers February 22, 2013 at 02:39 PM
I don't know the family, but my impression is that he has an okay relationship with them.
HJ February 22, 2013 at 05:21 PM
A lot of drug use, liquor & beer cans in his bedroom. The seems to be discipline lacking in the Fujita house.
Jim Bodkin February 22, 2013 at 06:15 PM
Brooklyn, You are doing a fantistic job! I have been following your blog and it feels like I'm right there in the courtroom.
j February 22, 2013 at 08:57 PM
There's been a lot of talk of him gaining weight in a short time for sports related reasons. The family talks about him going to GMC at the mall. they also talk about when his uncle noticed his weight gain he was flattered. Did they find any performance enhancing drugs. This might account for some serious side effects Such as mood swings and depression. Did they do any drug tests when they arrested him?
Brooklyn Lowery (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 09:03 PM
There hasn't been any mention of PEDs. That doesn't mean there won't be, but it hasn't come up yet. As for whether they conducted drug tests, again, it hasn't come up but that doesn't mean it won't.
Brooklyn Lowery (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 09:04 PM
Thanks, Jim, Glad I can be helpful.
Brooklyn Lowery (Editor) February 22, 2013 at 09:05 PM
Not often that I've noticed, carolbells. He has on occasion, but not often.
Michael Barrett February 22, 2013 at 09:41 PM
He went to my gym for a few months before the crime and arrest. He has filled out quite a bit since then. He was average size for a football player at the time of his crime. He certainly was not on any type of Steroids or PED's. What he was getting from GNC was probably whey protein, and some supplements. They are not steroid or anything like them. You can tell the people on roids at the gym, this kid wasn't one of them.
Michael Barrett February 22, 2013 at 09:46 PM
TV really does make people look bigger. When he was arrested, he looked a little bigger than in person. He looks bigger now than on tv at the time of his arrest. He has matured more physically since July 2011 and filled out. Remember he played WR on the football team, he wasn't a Linebacker or Lineman. He had an average muscular build back then. I think people see him in pictures and on TV and think he's huge. He's not at all.
UserXYZ February 23, 2013 at 05:26 AM
He's just fat now is all, sitting all day in a cell will do that to you. Anyway, I'm confused. So Nathaniel basically admitted to Caroline that day that he had killed Astley....and she hugged him? Seriously? Is this the reaction you have when someone tells you they've just murdered someone?
Michael Barrett February 24, 2013 at 06:15 PM
I had the same reaction. She admits that she knew he had killed her and the cousin hugs him and goes out. And she said on the stand she visits him in jail and stays in touch with him. The family is there always too, so they are supporting him. There is not doubt about him committing a brutal murder, he admits it. They are trying to sell this BS insanity. How can the family support him? Insane people don't dispose of the body, clean up the crime scene, move her car, throw her keys in the storm drain, hide his dirty clothes, etc. Also he had her park away from his house when she arrived. He knew what he was going to do before she even arrived. He's not insane, he's just a pathetic criminal. Jury convicts in less than 2 hrs. He deserves the death penalty.
Michael Barrett February 24, 2013 at 06:16 PM
I had the same reaction. She admits that she knew he had killed her and the cousin hugs him and goes out. And she said on the stand she visits him in jail and stays in touch with him. The family is there always too, so they are supporting him. There is not doubt about him committing a brutal murder, he admits it. They are trying to sell this BS insanity. How can the family support him? Insane people don't dispose of the body, clean up the crime scene, move her car, throw her keys in the storm drain, hide his dirty clothes, etc. Also he had her park away from his house when she arrived. He knew what he was going to do before she even arrived. He's not insane, he's just a pathetic criminal. Jury convicts in less than 2 hrs. He deserves the death penalty.p
Shaun C February 25, 2013 at 01:25 AM
There wasn't any sign that he would be capable of this? A person just doesnt snap the way this fool did. He had to have signs he was capable of murder the way it was committed. Damn fool!
Michael Barrett February 25, 2013 at 03:09 AM
Criminals keep it compartmentalized. Look at what people said about serial killers like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, etc. They were normal around others and cold killers at other times. They keep that side away from others. Some have an inner demon they can't control, Dahmer was like that. He really he knew he was evil and tried to contain it but he would explode at times. On the local level, look at the Doctor Greinedeer from Wellesley who killed his wife with a hammer. He had a completely different life of hookers, porn, etc. then the nationally recognized Doctor and family man. Same thing with the English guy Entwhisle who killed his wife and infant daughter in Hopkinton a few years ago. He was into porn, hookers, etc. Scott Peterson in CA, etc. This kid might have been moody but everyone is moody from time to time. But what is inside? No one ever knows.
Donna Rega February 25, 2013 at 07:34 PM
Your make some good points Mr. Barrett. I am just overcome with confusion as to how young people in the normal course of life . . . school, sports, work, friends, dating, break ups, etc. resort to "murder" when there are many alternate remedies to seek when disappointment arises. It's unsettling to me and what is the final straw? For all intents and purposes, young Mr. Fujita seemed to be relatively average, maybe with some awkward personality traits, but how does one go from punching a tent pole out of frustration to murder? It's a giant leap and a devastating one.
Michael Barrett February 26, 2013 at 03:55 AM
They are criminals, it's as simple as that. He, like others seemed normal but there was an underlying evil. I'd like to see Nate in an electric chair, that won't happen. But when he's convicted, he'll never see freedom again. Say he lives an average lifespan. He will have lived free for 18 yrs and be in prison for the next 65 or 70 yrs. All because he couldn't move on. Pathetic.
UserXYZ February 26, 2013 at 05:33 AM
@Michael Barrett I'm confused by her reaction in that it just seemed so nonchalant and I'm sure I would have been a bit more shocked on hearing my cousin had killed someone, but I'm not confused by her not wanting to report him and staying in touch. They did seem fairly close and are relatives so it's understandable that she'd stay by his side - I wonder if any of his friends from HS visit him. I'm also glad we don't have the death penalty and feel 20 years would be an acceptable sentence for this crime but since I know that's never gonna happen, I kind of hope is does get off on the insanity charge.
Michael Barrett February 27, 2013 at 05:03 AM
UserXYZ - You want a cold blooded murderer to get off on the insanity BS? That would mean he could be out this summer. He wouldn't have been in jail 2 years for a brutal murder of a young woman. You need to understand how small and defenseless this girl was. She was tiny, a little over 100 pounds. He was nearly 12" taller and nearly twice her weight. He choked her to death with a bungy cord. No 20 years would not be enough either. This kid planned this crime. The second she agreed to stop by his house, she was dead. He knew what he was going to do to her and it was all because he was angry she dumped him and moved on. He is a cold blooded killer who would certainly kill again if released. Don't let the age affect you. He is no different than someone like OJ. He had anger toward his ex and took his revenge through murder. Same here.
UserXYZ February 27, 2013 at 09:12 AM
@Michael Barrett OK, of course I don't want him out this summer. But I'd rather see him spend 10 years in some sort of mental facility than the rest of his life in a prison. A full life sentence without parole is simply too much for this crime in my opinion. But I accept that others have differing views re: punishments/jail term lengths. I just happen to have a fairly progressive outlook regarding it. I don't see what 60 years in prison will accomplish except a heck of a lot of money being spent by the state to keep him fed and clothed vs 10-15 years in prison/mental facility where he could very well become rehabilitated. I do think the guy had some mental problems and that they could be worked on.
TB February 27, 2013 at 01:06 PM
@UserXYZ - 10 years and then let him free? "A full life sentence is too much for this crime" Seriously? These statements are an example of living in the abstract vs. reality. If convicted (either outright or by "insanity") there is NO WAY, NONE AT ALL this killer ever should be allowed back on the the streets. He loses that privilege by taking another human life, compounded especially by the brutality. So tell us, what kinds of brutal murders do deserve a full life sentence? Please be specific. Start with slaughtering teenage girls and work your way up. We'd all benefit from hearing your rationale-in-the abstract.
Michael Barrett February 27, 2013 at 01:15 PM
UserXYZ - What life in prison with no parole would do here is prevent another woman being a victim. It would be a punishment but also the only protection for woman from him. He planned this, he covered it uo and he has never shown any remorse. He would kill gain if ever released. He has no empathy, he's cold.
UserXYZ February 27, 2013 at 03:28 PM
I think one murder shouldn't equal 60 years, I believe in rehabilitation and with some pyschological work, I think Nathaniel could be released back into society within 10 years and not pose a threat to anyone. 60 years for a single murder is beyond excessive, 60 years should be reserved for serial murderers. Take for example someone invading the house of a family they don't know and killing all the members, that is life-sentence worthy. But this is a case of an emotional teenager who couldn't handle a break-up and it erupted in violence and murder, those crimes are worlds apart. Send him to prison, *punish* him for what he has done and try and make him into someone who can contribute to society rather than rotting in a cell for 60 years soaking up tax-payers money.
kate f February 27, 2013 at 07:38 PM
I agree 100% with Jim. You have done an incredible job of writing out this sad 'blog'. Very detailed and realistic as possible, and definately a 'you are there' experience in the reading. I understand not in the emotions of family and friends.
kate f February 27, 2013 at 07:48 PM
This was not a 'passion crime'. His killing of Ashley was vindictive..over and over again....the many stabbing wounds around her throat..the beating, after or before the bungee cord wasn't doing the 'trick' for him. His thinking is very dangerous and he should never be out again...what would be the point. Yes..I feel so helpless in the forever pain of her parents....and the innocence and way of life of his younger brother and sister, because of what their big brother did. His parents ....and extended family, who have been so close for many years.
Michael Barrett February 27, 2013 at 07:59 PM
There are many victims in this, none greater than Lauren and her parents, but certainly all the friends and family of both are greatly affected. The one is who is not a victim in anyway is Nate, even if he's in jail for life. His actions are what caused the loss of life and everyone else's pain. His actions were absolutely in vengeance for her dumping him. I think there is a possibility he invited her there and asked for her to take him back. That would have saved her life. But if she said no, then he would go with plan B. He killed her because he was angry. He slashed her throat to make sure she was dead. His desire that day was her death and he wanted to be sure that happened. I know he's their kid but I don't know how his parents can show up there to support him. He's a monster, move on with your life and take care of the other two kids. It's not their fault he did this but now they know what he did, move on. I couldn't sit there like they are.
kate f February 27, 2013 at 08:08 PM
I say not a passion crime due to I also feel that he planned this ..in 'his head' and as Michael Barrett said, as soon as she went there, she was dead. Not passion, vindictivness..in the garage...pretty bold with the closeby neighbors..anyone could of come by. I think that was a cognitive disorder in his way of thinking...not sudden anger and passion.

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