NEW YORK – Paul Cortez is an aspiring actor who has taken his performance into the courtroom. Cortez, 26 years old, took the stand on Thursday, during the trial in which he is accused of murder. The case is being tried before the Manhattan Supreme Court.
Prosecutors from the Manhattan district have charged Cortez of second degree murder. The prosecutors say Cortez viciously slashed his estranged girlfriend’s, Catherine Woods, throat, after Woods expressed her desire to end the relationship. The prosecutors have presented physical evidence tying Cortez to the murder of Woods. There were footprints corresponding to Cortez’s shoe size and a bloody fingerprint belonging to Cortez was found at Woods’ apartment on November 27, 2005, they day she was murdered.
Cortez testified for five hours with hardly any interruptions. During his testimony, Cortez practically gave his whole life story, which led up to his tumultuous relationship with Woods. Woods is reported as being a struggling dancer who turned to stripping as a means of income.
Cortez contends he is innocent and that he was in love with Woods. He says he would never hurt her, let alone kill her. “When we were good, it was great. When we were arguing, she was distant, but we would always come back together,” said Cortez.
Cortez appeared content as he described how he and Woods first met in 2004. They met at a gym where he was employed as a personal trainer. It is reported that Cortez fought his convictions about accepting Woods’ employment as a stripper. Cortez claims Woods had been drugged and raped on the job, which added to his struggle to accept her work. Cortez said, “I felt that it was a dangerous industry to be in, but I accepted it…it was apart of her life, and if I wanted her I had to accept it.”
In an effort to discredit the evidence presented by the prosecution, Cortez claimed the bloody fingerprint could have been there from having sex during Woods’ period. Cortez’s defense attorney, Laura Miranda, questioned Cortez. “Would you get your hands dirty? Did you ever get your hands on the wall when making love when she was having her period?” she asked. Cortez replied, “Yes, I could have.”
Cortez tried to explain his reasoning for having multiple entries in his journal about Woods, which the prosecutors have argued showed Cortez had an obsession with Woods. One of the entries was a song Cortez had written entitled “The Killin Machine”. Cortez had written the song one month prior to Woods’ murder. Cortez claims the song is the result of how guys equate violence with sex. There was also an entry in his journal titled “don’t look back” which he claims was written after Woods’ death. “Don’t look back” was the final entry in Cortez’s journal.
Miranda questioned Cortez on his intentions surrounding the murder. She asked, “Was it your intention to cause harm to Catherine Woods?” Cortez answered, “not at all.” Cortez’s testimony continued Friday. If he is found guilty of second degree murder, he will face life in prison.
(Court TV News)