Monserrate Case about "Power and Control:" Prosecutors

Opening arguments underway in state senator's assault trial

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    NEWSLETTERS

    State Senator Hiram Monserrate arrives at the beginning of his assault trial, and cracks a joke.

    State Sen. Hiram Monserrate became so incensed when he found that his girlfriend had another man's business card that he lashed out at her in a fit of jealous rage, prosecutors said today at the start of his criminal trial.

    "He struck her in a jealous rage,"  prosecutor Scott Kessler said today during opening arguments in describing the motive behind Monserrate's attack on his girlfriend.

    Monserrate, a Democrat and former City Council member, has pleaded not guilty to assault charges in the incident at his apartment last December. He has been accused of slicing his girlfriend's face with broken glass during an argument.

    The defense team today denied that rage was a factor, saying the whole event was a mishap.

    "What happened was an accident. There were only two people behind those closed doors and they both say it was an accident.," attorney Joseph Tacopina said.

    "You wonder why they even brought this case. It's nothing more than rank speculation," he told the court.

    Not so argued the assistant DA, who said Monserrate found the business card in Karla Giraldo's purse and exploded in anger.

    "This case is about power and control," Kessler said, " He didn't just want that card thrown out, he wanted it destroyed."

    The prosecutor says there is a video that shows the senator putting the card in a building trash chute. Two hours later Giraldo left the apartment bleeding and cut.  What happened in the intervening time is what's in question at the trial.

    Prosecutors say Monserrate's girlfriend initially told police she was attacked -- and even told a nurse in the hospital that her boyfriend had sliced her face. But, she later recanted after she discovered he was going to be arrested. Her wound required 20 stitches.

    Last week, Monserrate waived his right to a jury trial, deciding to let Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum decide the case from the bench. Monserrate faces prison and the loss of his senate seat if convicted on the top charge.