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Antonio Christian, charged with murder, denies killing on video

Saundra Simonee, 59, is seen in this undated

Saundra Simonee, 59, is seen in this undated photo. Suffolk prosecutors say her daughter's boyfriend, Antonio Christian, 28, of Roosevelt, killed her. He is charged with first-degree murder in her Sept. 26, 2013 death. Credit: handout

Three mornings after the skull of his girlfriend’s mother was crushed, a Roosevelt man rejected a homicide detective’s efforts to blame him for the killing in a videotaped interrogation played Monday at the man’s trial in Riverhead.

Antonio Christian, 28, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Saundra Simonée, 59, during the early hours of Sept. 26, 2013. He is accused of beating her to death in her East Norwich home with a hammer and dumping her body in Bay Shore.

After the discovery of the body on Sept. 27, Christian was arrested the next day after his girlfriend, Shatura Simonée, 29, told Suffolk homicide detectives he did it. Christian’s defense now is that the daughter committed the crime.

Det. John McLeer testified that Shatura Simonée reacted oddly when he notified her of the death of her mother.

“Everybody reacts differently, but she was very calm throughout, almost aloof.” McLeer said during questioning by Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe. “Not a lot of emotion — in fact, no emotion.”

Christian had a stronger reaction when he was arrested early on Sept. 28, McLeer said.

“He was adamant that there was a mistake here,” McLeer testified. “He said he’d never been to Bay Shore.”

During the videotaped interrogation, played for jurors and state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen, McLeer told Christian he was seen taking the body out of the victim’s Mercedes-Benz at an apartment complex in Bay Shore. He asked Christian where he was the days before and after Saundra Simonée was killed.

“Wednesday, Wednesday, where was I Wednesday?” Christian said on the video. Eventually he told McLeer he was at a friend’s house all day Wednesday and Thursday. He said he didn’t go to the Simonée house, where mother and daughter lived together, until Friday afternoon. That’s when he found out the mother was missing, Christian said.

McLeer told Christian in the video he knew he wasn’t welcome at that house because of an order of protection after his young son was injured. McLeer said he believed Saundra Simonée confronted him when she saw him there and he lashed out at her. Also, McLeer told Christian it’s impossible that some other person could have done it.

“Here’s the thing we can’t get over,” McLeer told Christian in the video. “If a stranger did it, packs her up, puts her in her own car, drives to Bay Shore and then, for some crazy reason I would never be able to figure out in my wildest dreams, drives the car back to her house —”

“I don’t even know my way out to Bay Shore,” Christian interrupted.

“This is critical, dude,” McLeer said. “It’s very hard to separate you from this mess.”

The day after Saundra Simonée was killed, Christian spent the day withdrawing money from her bank account and buying a PlayStation 3, McLeer said, relying on surveillance video from various locations in Hempstead.

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