Nathaniel Fujita showed up drunk at a Wayland High School graduation party, confronted his ex-girlfriend Lauren Astley, and then angrily shoved a tent pole so hard that the tent nearly collapsed, Astley’s best friend testified Monday.
Fujita is being tried in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn on first-degree murder and other charges in Astley’s death on July 3, 2011, not long after both graduated. Prosecutors say he was furious and humiliated that his high school sweetheart had broken up with him; Fujita’s defense lawyer says he was suffering a psychotic episode.
Hannah Blahut, 19, testified that between 150 and 200 people came to a backyard party that Astley and another friend helped her host on June 4, 2011. They had a rented tent with a hardwood floor and music and balloons, Blahut said.
During the party, Fujita arrived drunk with a group of male friends. At one point in the party, Blahut testified, he started following Astley around, saying “Can we just talk? Can you just listen to me?”
Blahut said, “I saw Lauren pick up her hands and push them at her sides as if she was saying just stay away from me.”
She said Fujita looked very angry. “His eyes squinted up, and I guess so did his face, then he walked up to one of the poles holding up the tent, grabbed his fist, and shoved it in,” she said. “The entire tent started to shake as if it was going to fall down and about 100 people at the party grabbed the tent and tried to hold it up.”
Asked what Fujita did, Blahut testified, “He just sort of walked away and stood there.”
Blahut said she went over to Fujita and told him to settle down and take a walk. He said some harsh words to her, she testified.
After relating to a friend what he had said, Blahut had another harsh conversation with Fujita and about 20 minutes later his mother came and picked him up from the party, she testified.
Blahut said she had been at other parties senior year with Fujita and nothing struck her as unusual or out of sorts with him.
On cross examination, Blahut testified that Astley was concerned about Fujita in the spring and early summer, around the time of their breakup.
Fujita is accused of luring 18-year-old Astley to his home, telling her to park out of sight, and then beating, strangling and slashing her to death on July 3, 2011.
He faces charges of first-degree murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of assault and battery. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.
Evan Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.