HUDSON, Wis. (KMSP) - Christian Nunez sat at the defense table, listening to a translator via headphone, showing little reaction. In this St. Croix County courtroom, a jury of 12 men and women, plus two alternates, were just beginning to hear the evidence against him as prosecutors try to prove he murdered his ex-girlfriend and her young daughter, then tried to hide the evidence by burning down their house.
“When I say brutal, I mean brutal,” Assistant District Attorney Edward Misner told jurors. ‘’Courtney was stabbed multiple times - 33 times.”
Nunez is accused in the murders of 28-year-old Courtney Bradford and her 10-year-old daughter Jasmine. In early September 2015, they were found in their burning home in New Richmond, Wisconsin, Courtney in her bedroom, Jasmine in the basement. Both had been stabbed in the neck and bled to death.
“After they had taken their last breath, they were doused in gasoline,” Misner told jurors in a dramatic afternoon of opening statements.
He explained the trail of evidence that led immediately to Nunez. Investigators tracked Bradford’s car via its OnStar system and found it parked at the airport in Des Moines and security video there shows Nunez getting out. His own cell phone then traces him to Chicago, then to El Paso, Texas. Bradford’s debit card was used for those plane tickets as well as to pay for a hotel room in El Paso, where Nunez was arrested.
Prosecutors also showed jurors pictures of shoes found in a dumpster in Hudson outside the motel where Nunez had been living. They say witnesses will testify those are the shoes he wore, while experts will testify the DNA found on them in the form of blood is Bradfords.
The motive: ‘that he was jealous of Courtney that she had been speaking with other men, that over time he developed a hatred of Courtney.”
Nunez’s defense attorney told jurors this case is much like a big jigsaw puzzle, but “there’s a ton of pieces that are missing.”
“You’re going to hear there’s no witnesses that place him at the house. You’re going to hear there’s no DNA of his at the house,” defense attorney Brian Smestad said.
Smestad said there is no evidence that they were ever in love with each other and that both saw other people, picking apart the idea that Nunez had any motivation to kill Bradford and her daughter.
“Our belief is once you hear all the evidence, the lack of evidence, you’ll agree he’s not guilty," Smestad said.
The trial is scheduled for seven days, with a long witness list of investigators and family and friends. There is no indication that Nunez will take the stand in his own defense.