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Jurors in Nathaniel Fujita trial visit crime scenes in Wayland today

Posted by Your Town  February 15, 2013 01:35 PM

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WOBURN - Jurors in the murder trial of Nathaniel Fujita, the man accused of killing his ex-girlfriend, on Friday morning visited three locations in the Wayland area that played key roles in the death of Lauren Astley.

The jurors visited the Fujita home, where prosecutors say the defendant lured Astley on July 3, 2011 and allegedly attacked her. The jurors stayed for about a half hour.

They also went to the Wayland Town Beach, where her car was found. And they were taken to a swampy area near Water Row, where her body was found.

They completed their tour by mid-day.

In her opening statement on Wednesday, Assistant District Attorney Lisa McGovern said their relationship began to fall apart when Astley broke up with Fujita on Astley’s birthday in April. They got back together briefly, but then broke up.

She said the day before the death, Astley had been texting and calling Fujita for a couple of weeks, because she was worried about him. He wasn’t answering. On June 27, he responded and they tried to set up a meeting.

Finally, on July 3, she got a text from him at work at 12:36 that he might stop by. He didn’t, but he later told her they would get together that evening.

She called him at 6:51 p.m. and he gave her unusual instructions: don’t park at the regular spot when she came to his house. Park on a nearby street, next to a garage.

At 7:05, she texted him: “here.’’

Sometime between 7:05 and 7:20 p.m., he strangled her with a bungee cord. He then slashed her throat with a knife, causing a “gaping jagged-edged wound’’ and other injuries. She was also battered during the struggle.

Jurors have also heard from a woman who discovered the body of Astley.

The woman testified that she went out on July 4, 2011, on a bike ride to look for blue heron on Water Row in Wayland.

At first, she couldn’t understand what she was looking at: a person's knees rising out of the water.

“I thought no, this can’t be, that just happens on TV. You don’t see this in real life,” she said from the witness stand.

“I almost talked myself out of it. I said, I’m gonna leave, this isn’t real,” she said, her voice wavering. “And then I thought somewhere, if this is real, there’s somebody who is waiting for someone to call or someone to walk through that door, and their loved one’s not there. I had to make sure. So I got off my bike. I stepped forward a few feet and still couldn’t tell. And then I crouched down. I looked back again, and that’s when I saw a clenched fist sticking out of the water.”

Fujita, now 20, is facing charges of first-degree murder, two charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of assault and battery. If he is convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

Defense attorneys appear to be building an insanity defense. If Fujita is found not guilty because of a lack of criminal responsibility, Fujita would be committed indefinitely, said Sullivan. He would undergo periodic evaluations about his safety and condition.

The trial is expected to take about three weeks. The jury will likely begin deliberating in early March, according to the judge.

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