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East Norwich murder trial jury sees videotaped interrogation

Saundra Simonee, 59, of Norwich is seen in

Saundra Simonee, 59, of Norwich is seen in this photo. She was murdered on Sept. 26, 2013. Credit: handout

A Roosevelt man spent hours in Suffolk police custody denying he had anything to do with the murder of his girlfriend’s mother in 2013, a videotaped interrogation played Tuesday for jurors showed.

In the video, Antonio Christian, 28, denied killing Saundra Simonée, 59, at her East Norwich home early on Sept. 26, dumping her body in Bay Shore the next day or using the victim’s bank card to withdraw money and buy a PlayStation 3.

The video was played during Christian’s trial on a charge of first-degree murder before state Supreme Court Justice Mark Cohen.

Det. John McLeer asked Christian in the video if detectives would find evidence of a PlayStation purchase when they reviewed the spending on Simonée’s bank card. “No,” Christian replied.

“Good,” McLeer said. “Because I think I’d be sick to my stomach if someone got killed over a video game.”

Earlier in the trial, bank records and surveillance video showed Christian using Simonée’s card to get cash and buy a PlayStation 3.

The defense has blamed Christian’s then-girlfriend, Shatura Simonée, 29, for the death of her mother. Saundra Simonée was killed by more than a dozen blows to the head with a hammer, Assistant District Attorney Laura Newcombe said in her opening statement.

Defense attorney Steven Wilutis of Miller Place began his cross-examination of McLeer by laying the groundwork for an attack on the daughter, who is expected to testify Thursday.

“She’s given various accounts of events, is that right?” Wilutis asked McLeer.

“That is right,” the detective answered.

Shatura Simonée initially told Nassau police that her mother inexplicably called a cab and left the home they shared in her pajamas the night of Sept. 25, according to McLeer. Later, he said she told Suffolk detectives that she heard Christian attacking her mother with a ceramic elephant. She then said she saw the attack. And then shortly before the trial began, she said the murder weapon was a hammer and not the elephant.

Wilutis also asked McLeer about text messages between Shatura Simonée and Christian after the slaying, the afternoon of Sept. 26.

“I’m a mess, and all I want to say is I’m truly sorry,” Simonée wrote.

“Sorry for what?” Christian replied. “We ain’t going to talk about that.”

“For everything,” she texted.

“What did you do?” Christian responded.

McLeer said detectives did not retrieve those text messages until last month.

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