About six months before Leonardo Valdez-Cruz viciously stabbed his girlfriend Jo'Anna Bird, he wrote her a series of letters from jail, telling her that he would kill her if she was ever with another man, prosecutors say.
"The thought of you with another [man] brings fire to my soul," Valdez-Cruz, now 24, of Westbury, wrote on Sept. 18, 2008. "When I think about that, I think about killing, killing and killing. So please don't cross that line, because if you do, there will be no more talking coming from me, strictly actions," the letter said
Valdez-Cruz has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him and has said he loved Bird and would never have hurt her.
Late in the day, Jo'Anna Bird's mother, Sharon Dorsett, 49, of Westbury, took the stand, but she did not begin testifying about March 19, 2009, the day of the slaying, before the trial broke for the day. That testimony is expected Friday.
Prosecutors say Valdez-Cruz terrorized Bird for months, repeatedly calling and visiting her despite multiple orders of protection, before he broke into her home one last time and tortured her to death.
At the time he wrote the letters, he was in the Nassau County jail for violating an order of protection Bird held against him, prosecutors said. Valdez-Cruz was jailed from June through December 2008.
In the letters, Valdez-Cruz pleads with Bird to give him another chance, and threatens to kill her if she won't.
In her opening statement this week, prosecutor Madeline Singas said that when Valdez-Cruz fled after killing Bird, he took her cell phone with him. That phone had records of calls from Bird to and from other men, Singas said, something that may have set Valdez-Cruz off.
Also Thursday, Bird's best friend, Latina Robinson, testified that Valdez-Cruz was fond of grabbing Bird's cell phone, scrolling through the call history and quizzing her about who she'd been speaking to.
In a letter dated Sept. 9, 2008, Valdez-Cruz wrote, "It's not going to kill you to give me one last chance. It might kill you if you don't." He then wrote, "Psych. Just playing. Hahaha."
On Sept. 25, 2008, he ended a letter with a drawing of a tombstone with Bird's name on it, saying that if she was with another man she would be "a dead -- who left behind two beautiful kids that really needed her more than anything in this whole whole world."
Dorsett said her daughter was terrified of Valdez-Cruz, often asking Dorsett to walk her to her car to make sure he wasn't hiding in the bushes.
"She was petrified," Dorsett said. "She didn't want him anywhere around her."