Aurea Cruz leaves Nassau court after testifying in her son's...

Aurea Cruz leaves Nassau court after testifying in her son's murder trial, Tuesday. Her son, Leonardo Valdez-Cruz, is accused of killing his estranged girlfriend Jo'Anna Bird. (April 27, 2010) Credit: Howard Schnapp

Aurea Cruz took the stand at her son's murder trial Tuesday to say that, on the day Leonardo Valdez-Cruz is accused of killing his estranged girlfriend Jo'Anna Bird, he was at her house until a short time before the killing took place.

Cruz, of Westbury, who was the only witness called by the defense at her son's first-degree murder trial, said Bird had dropped her son off at about 8:30 a.m. March 19, 2009, and he did not leave her home until about noon - about 45 minutes before Bird's family called police to say Valdez-Cruz was holding her captive.

But on cross-examination, prosecutor Madeline Singas played a tape of Valdez-Cruz, 24, of Westbury, calling his mother from the Nassau jail last month.

"My lawyer is going to call you," he says. "You tell them that you saw Jo'Anna at the house with me . . . and I was there at home and I left the house at around . . ." the tape cut off before Valdez-Cruz said what time he wanted his mother to say he left the house, but Singas seemed to think she'd made her point.

"I have no further questions," she said a moment later.

It was the last day of testimony in Valdez-Cruz's trial in Nassau County Court in Mineola on charges that he terrorized Bird for months before torturing her to death in her New Cassel apartment. On Thursday, lawyers in the case will present their closing arguments.

Valdez-Cruz has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

The tape of Valdez-Cruz calling his mother from jail was just one of several played Tuesday by prosecutors. In the morning, Singas played recordings of Valdez-Cruz calling Bird, 24, from the jail in the fall of 2008, when he was serving time for violating orders of protection against her.

"I wish they'd call me . . . and be like, "Yo . . . the mother of your children just died in a tragic car accident. . . . I would be so happy, baby."

He continues, "But matter of fact, I won't even be happy. I'd be stressed out because I want you to suffer. I want you to suffer so bad."

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