Former Pleasantville, NY resident Sheila Davalloo, who was charged in 2007 with the murder of Stamford resident Anna Lisa Raymundo, stood alone before a judge at on Tuesday for day one of her trial. Choosing to represent herself, Davalloo questioned the court's description of her relationship with the man she is accused of killing.
"The characterization of the term 'love triangle' has been used lightly," Davalloo said following the day's first objection. She explained that the term, which was employed by Supervisory States Attorney James Bernardi early in his examination of Davalloo's ex-husband Paul Christos, contained an inherently negative meaning — and for the situation — was inaccurate.
Davalloo stands trial for allegedly killing Raymundo on Nov. 8, 2002 in her apartment, and then resuming an ongoing affair with Raymundo's boyfriend Nelson Sessler. Davalloo, who has a degree in biochemistry, worked at Stamford's Perdue Pharma with both Sessler and Raymundo.
This objection was overruled, as Bernardi argued that it was still the most accurate way to describe the affair between Sessler, Raymundo and Davalloo, if only because both women were interested in the same male. Prosecution continued to use the term "love triangle" to describe Davalloo's affair.
In the course of describing his marriage to Davalloo, which officially ended in 2004, Christos stated to Bernardi that he had been "gullible" at times. Christos began his testimony by describing events leading up to his 2003 attack, such as Davalloo's stories about her Purdue Pharma co-workers "Melissa," "Jack" and "Anna Lisa." According to Christos, these stories, which grew in detail and frequency over time, usually involved "Melissa's" attempts to romance "Jack" away from his girlfriend, "Anna Lisa."
"I would often ask, 'Why are you interested?'... I listened to humor her," Christos said. "By that point [in our marriage], we were more like roommates, we weren't even romantic any more."
Bernardi illustrated both the fictional relationship and the real "love triangle" for the jury with simple graphs, naming "Jack" as Sessler, "Melissa" as Davalloo, and "Anna Lisa" as Anna Lisa Raymundo. Christos went on to describe a visit to his then-wife's workplace where Davalloo led him to "Melissa's" office.
"I didn't see any nameplates or anything," he said. "She showed me a picture on her desk of about five people at a Halloween Party. She pointed to a woman who looked like a witch and said 'That's Melissa.'"
Christos stated that when he first learned Raymundo had been murdered, he began to suspect "Melissa."
Christos Recalls Ex's Attack
In the latter parts of Monday's session, Christos discussed his ex-wife's attack on him, reiterating that the blindfolding game that he played with Davalloo prior to his being stabbed "had no sexual aspect at all" and that he and Davalloo were no longer romantic by that time. The rules involved touching one another with household objects and guessing what they were while blindfolded. Davalloo was the guesser first, while Christos followed. As the game ended, Christos stated that his ex-wife said "one last item, one last thing," while he was still lying down.
"It felt as though a dumbbell had fallen on top of me," Christos said of the first stabbing, which he had not seen. He testified that they did not immediately go to the hospital, though Davalloo initially expressed concern as to his condition, telling him that he was "very brave" and reaffirming that she loved him.
He stated that when she did finally drive him to the hospital, she didn't go to the emergency room, but a facility next door, and then stabbed him again in the car while bearing a "distressed, angry" expression. He said that a struggle for the knife ensued, which ended with Christos and Davalloo outside of the vehicle.
After the attack, Christos told Bernardi that Davalloo shouted, "You're taking me away from my brother, I love my brother!," referring to Davalloo's mentally ill sibling, who Christos had never met. Christos said he was often asked by Davalloo to stay away from home so that she could occasionally care for her brother, who might have reacted badly to news of Davalloo's marriage.
The investigation leading to Davalloo's first trial revealed that Davalloo had actually invited Sessler to her home whenever Christos obliged to these requests. According to the investigation, Sessler was unaware that Davalloo was married. Christos stated he suffered three stab wounds to the chest and was saved by open-heart surgery.
Patrolman, Dispatcher Testify
Earlier in Tuesday's proceedings, Bernardi called and patrolman David Sileo, who was the first to arrive at the Raymundo crime scene, to testify, followed by the dispatcher who answered the initial 911 call made from a pay-phone at the Duchess Restaurant, which led to the discovery of Raymundo's body.
Davalloo questioned Sileo about the state of Raymundo's wounds when he arrived at the murder scene and if the area was secure. Sileo replied that the victim's wounds were "fresh" upon arrival, but he was not an expert on the matter.
Under examination by Bernardi and later cross-examination by Davalloo, the dispatcher stated that she'd originally been given the wrong address by the caller, who the prosecution must prove was actually Davalloo.
Christos is expected to return to the witness stand later this week.