By Kelli Stopczynski (email@example.com)
4:45 PM EST, November 16, 2012
It’s been an emotional three months since Trina Winston's family last saw her.
“It’s been pretty rough,” said Winston’s cousin, Joanne Williams.
Three months since police said Winston’s estranged husband, Tarrance Lee, killed her inside the couple’s Hickory Village apartment in Mishawaka and dumped her body.
“What kind of justice is that for my aunt?” asked Sharon Lax, Winston’s niece.
Four weeks since a meter reader found Winston’s body beneath a pile of tires, behind an abandoned house in Chicago.
“I feel like it should have been over with,” said one of Winston’s sisters, Cecelia Bronson-Winston. “He’s guilty.”
Although Lee’s trial is over, a judge said Friday he needs five days to review all the evidence and testimony in the case before making his decision.
During closing arguments, deputy prosecuting attorney Christy Haws told the judge the evidence shows Lee strangled Winston to death on August 16.
“I’d also ask you to consider the testimony you heard in terms of the status of the relationship between Trina and the defendant at the time - including a protective order, divorce papers, there had been threats by the defendant against Trina and she was in fear for her life,” Haws said. “Also, there was specific evidence in his motive with him believing that Trina had been cheating on him."
But defense attorney Jeff Sanford argued the Chicago medical examiner who performed Winston’s autopsy and ruled her death a “homicide by unspecified means" couldn't say exactly how she died.
"The state didn't have to prove how a person was choked," Sanford said. "But they still have to show, to convict somebody of murder, that the person actually died at the act of another and there is no medical evidence that supports that theory.”
Sanford also said only one person testified in court that he heard Lee say he killed Winston – and that witness has previous convictions for false informing and criminal conversion, meaning he’s not credible.
Winston’s family said Friday they’re upset that they have to wait longer to learn the judge’s decision. They’re also questioning why none of the three witnesses who testified that they saw Winston’s body – including Tarrance Lee’s brother, Anthony, and Andre O’Neil, who turned Tarrance Lee in to police – have not been arrested or charged with any crimes in this case.
“They should be in jail. You were an accessory in a murder and you’re still walking the streets?” asked Lax.
Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Ken Cotter told WSBT he can’t legally answer questions about that until next Wednesday, after the judge makes his ruling.
In a rare move we don’t often see in murder cases, Lee requested a bench trial. That means a judge will decide whether Lee killed Winston, instead of a jury.
Lee was convicted for a double murder in the 80s but got out of prison early for good behavior.
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