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Antonio Christian killed girlfriend’s mom, prosecutor says

Antonio Christian, left, is on trial, charged in

Antonio Christian, left, is on trial, charged in connection with the death of his girlfriend's mother, Saundra Simonee, who died on Sept. 26, 2013. Credit: Suffolk County Sheriff's Office

Even though the daughter of a woman beaten to death in her living room is an unlikable liar, a Suffolk prosecutor told jurors Tuesday, her murder accusation against her boyfriend is logical and supported by other evidence.

The charge of first-degree murder against Antonio Christian, 28, of Roosevelt hangs largely on the testimony of his girlfriend, Shatura Simonée, 29. After telling numerous versions of how her mother, Saundra Simonée, 59, ended up with a crushed skull in her East Norwich home on Sept. 26, 2013, she ultimately testified that Christian killed her with a hammer.

“Why should you believe a word that she says?” Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe asked to jurors. “Because what she says makes sense.”

In his closing argument Monday, defense attorney Steven Wilutis of Miller Place conceded that his client dumped the body at a Bay Shore apartment complex, but said his lying girlfriend killed Saundra Simonée in a rage.

Shatura Simonée cooperated against Christian in return for 4 to 12 years in prison after she pleaded guilty to criminal facilitation. The deal increased to 6 to 18 years after her story changed again shortly before the trial began before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen.

But Newcombe said it was Christian — not Shatura Simonée — who had both the motive to kill the victim and the physical strength to do it. Further, other evidence in the case points to Christian as the killer, Newcombe said.

Christian was never supposed to be at the house because of an order of protection barring him from being near the child he had with Shatura Simonée, who lived with her mother. “He knows he’s going to jail” after the victim caught him there, Newcombe said.

He punched her and broke her jaw and then tortured her, pricking her with a knife, until she gave up the PIN to her bank card, Newcombe said. Once he had the PIN, Newcombe said, Christian had no more use for Saundra Simonée.

“Who had the power to hit her skull so hard it bruised her brain?” Newcombe said. “Shatura, 5 foot 4 inches and four months pregnant? Or the defendant, at 6 feet and 200 pounds of pure muscle?”

All other evidence in the case points to Christian as the killer and not to Shatura Simonée, Newcombe said. It was Christian who used the victim’s bank card to take out money to buy a PlayStation 3. The stolen bank card with ATM receipts was found in his wallet. Recorded phone calls show him trying to talk friends and family into providing an alibi for him.

“These are the manipulations of a killer,” Newcombe said.

Wilutis had pointed to an exchange of text messages the day after the killing, in which Shatura Simonée apologized and Christian responded, “For what? What did you do?” Wilutis said that showed she was the killer.

Newcombe said Christian’s response instead meant he was worried that she had talked to the police — something she started doing the next day.

Jurors deliberated two hours Tuesday and ended the day asking to see Shatura Simonée’s first statements to police and love letters the couple sent to each other in jail.

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