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Trial resumes of Nathaniel Fujita, accused of killing ex-girlfriend in Wayland

Posted by Leslie Anderson  February 19, 2013 01:50 PM

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The second week of the trial of Nathaniel Fujita opened with testimony from the Wayland police sergeant who interviewed Fujita in the hours after Lauren Astley’s death.

One of Fujita's teachers also took the stand, describing the Wayland High School senior as a reserved honors student whose grades fell precipitously over the course of the school year.

Former sergeant Richard Manley, who is now retired from the police force, described Fujita as “calm” and “stable” during two visits to his Wayland home early on the morning of July 4, 2011.

Fujita is accused of killing Astley, his ex-girlfriend, after they both graduated from Wayland High School.

The defense is arguing that Fujita was psychotic and did not know what he was doing at the time of Astley’s death.

Manley testified that Fujita told him that Astley had come over for a few minutes on the evening of July 3, and the two had talked outside, while she stayed in her car.

“He said Lauren wanted to know why he wasn’t coming out more, socializing with others,” said Manley.

Manley testified that he noticed nothing unusual about Fujita’s behavior or demeanor and he didn’t initially consider him a suspect.

“At some point he said, ‘I hope you find her,’” Manley testified.

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.

One of Fujita’s senior year teachers took the stand and described her former student as reserved.

“Nate was very quiet,” said Emily Norton, who is now retired from Wayland High School. “He rarely, if ever, volunteered to contribute to discussions. He showed very little emption. I rarely saw him smile, never saw him frown, laugh. I didn’t see any emotion.”

She said she recalled him smiling twice. One of those times was when she moved him to a different seat because she wanted him to pay better attention in class.

“One time was when I moved him to the front of the room, and I saw him smile at Lauren,” Norton testified.

Not knowing the two had been a couple, Norton moved Fujita to the seat next to Astley’s.

Norton also described a project in the course, an environmental sciences elective for seniors, that took Fujita to the area around Water Row, where Astley’s body was found on July 4, 2011.

In March, Fujita was among a large group of volunteers that helped put up a fence in the area around Route 27 and Water Row to keep some turtles from crossing the busy road.

Norton also said Fujita, an honors student, had started with an A- but eventually his grade average for the class fell to an F, and she met with Fujita and his mother, who was worried her son might lose a football scholarship to Trinity College, said Norton. Fujita the raised his grade to a D.

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