Trial begins in slaying of nursing student Michelle Le


October 1, 2012 7:27:21 PM PDT
Was it a crime of passion or premeditated murder? That's what an Oakland jury has to decide in the case of Giselle Esteban who's accused of stalking and killing Hayward nursing student Michelle Le last year.

The trial started in Oakland Monday and on its first day, there was a lot of talk about cell phone technology and text messages that was especially damaging to the defendant. Prosecutors even said they had surveillance video of Esteban at an Apple store holding Le's cell phone just days after Le disappeared.

In opening statements, Esteban's attorney told an Oakland jury that her client killed Hayward nursing student Michelle Le, but that it wasn't first or even second-degree murder. Attorney Andrea Auer said, "When Michelle died, Giselle did not act out of premeditation or deliberation, but out of extraordinary provocation and heat of passion." Auer says Esteban's killing of Le came only after years of Esteban believing Le was a threat to Esteban's relationship with former boyfriend Scott Marasigan, the father of a 6-year-old girl with Esteban.

Le's family sat near across the aisle from Esteban's in court. "The hope is to have some sense of justice. We'll never get her back, but at least we'll have justice," said Michelle Le's cousin Krystine Dinh. Le's remains were found in a remote area near Sunol four months after she disappeared from the parking garage of Kaiser Hospital in Hayward in may 2011. In court, prosecutors started their statement by showing photos of blood stains found inside Le's car and on the floor of the parking garage. The district attorney said Esteban's DNA and hair were also found inside the car. When images of Le's skeletal remains were flashed on the screen, Le's family members and friends began to cry.

The father of missing South Bay teen Sierra LaMar was in court to show his support for the Le family. "It's hard. It's really hard," Steve LaMar said asked how difficult it was it for him to sit in there and look at the images on the screen.

Marasigan, the boyfriend at the center of this case, took the stand Monday. He testified that in the months before Michelle Le disappeared, he recorded phone conversations and in-person conversation with Esteban who became increasingly obsessed with with Le. In one conversation recorded just six months before Le disappeared, Eesteban can be heard telling Marasigan, "You deserve to die for your lies and so does she, and you can take that to your grave."

Testimony resumes on Tuesday.