Newlywed Murder Trial Begins in Miami

Man accused in 2002 murder of wife finally heads to trial

Thursday, Mar 20, 2014  |  Updated 6:47 PM EDT
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A South Florida man accused of murdering his wife to collect a $1 million life insurance policy is finally heading to trial more than 11 years after her death. Justin Finch reports.

A South Florida man accused of murdering his wife to collect a $1 million life insurance policy is finally heading to trial more than 11 years after her death. Justin Finch reports.

A South Florida man accused of murdering his wife to collect a $1 million life insurance policy finally headed to to trial more than 11 years after her death.

Opening statements began Thursday in the trial of Michel Escoto, who is charged with first-degree murder in the October 2002 killing of Wendy Trapaga.

The body of Trapaga, 21, was found next to a trash bin at a warehouse parking lot between the Palmetto Expressway and Miami Springs, according to the Miami Herald.

Police believe Escoto, 42, beat Trapaga to death shortly after they were married. Escoto's ex-girlfriend admitted to prosecutors in 2011 that she helped Escoto plan the murder, the Herald reported.

"Wendy Trabaga had no idea that she would become a victim of this defendant's scheme to get rich quick," assistant prosecutor Rebecca DiMeglio said in court today.
 

Escoto acted as his own defense Thursday, creating some awkward moments in court.

"I would like to think that I'm not a complete moron. Perhaps there are people that disagree with that assertion," he said, drawing an objection from prosecutors that was sustained by the judge.

The trial is expected to last six to eight weeks.

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