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Closing Arguments Begin in Blaylock Murder Trial

Published On: Nov 08 2011 07:25:50 AM CST   Updated On: Nov 09 2011 01:26:47 AM CST
BEND,Ore. -

Closing arguments in the Steven Blaylock murder trial began Wednesday morning with prosecutors saying to look for the kernels of truth in the defendant?s statements about how his wife died.

In a courtroom so packed some people sat on the floor, the prosecution claimed Blaylock strangled his wife, Lori ?Woody? Blaylock, and suffocated her with a pillow. Defense lawyers, who called about a dozen witnesses in just over a day, said he killed her in self-defense and that she had been abusive to him, then and in the past.

On Tuesday, after testimony concluded, a twist: At the defense team's request, the 47-year-old could be convicted of a lesser charge.

On the ninth day of the trial, it was decided that if jurors find Blaylock guilty, then they can either convict him of murder, or first- or second-degree manslaughter.

But the jury must now weigh: Are Blaylock's string of lies his only crime?

His defense team says Lori Blaylock beat, scratched and smothered her husband -- forcing Blaylock to fight for his life.

"He reaches up with his hand, puts his hand around her neck and chokes her, in defending himself," said Blaylock's attorney, Jacques DeKalb.

He said Steven choked his wife until she passed out, and when she woke up, Lori attacked again.

With his hands and feet, Blaylock says he pushed his wife off the bed, killing her.

His only battle wound was a scratch across his cheek.

But his attorneys say it wasn't the first time Lori dug her fingernails into Steven's face while violently attacking him.

On Tuesday, the defense called witness after witness asking the same question over and over -- if they'd ever seen Steven Blaylock bruised and beaten.

"Two separate occasions, I saw Steve with a black eye," said Sarah Bridgewater, a bartender at Reed Pub, where Steven was a regular.

Bridgewater said she knew the Blaylock's relationship was volatile, but she never saw injuries on Lori, only Steven.

Jonathan Hayner testified about a fight he heard while camping next to the Blaylocks in August of 2010.

Hayner said the next day Lori looked fine, but Steven was visibly wounded.

"It looked like fingernail marks on either the left side of his face, on his cheek," said Hayner.

After Hayner's testimony, the defense rested its case.

But during cross-examination, prosecutors questioned if it was possible Steven was injured while Lori was fighting for her life.

In their rebuttal, the state pushed their theory that Steven, a part-time plumber assistant, was after his wife's money.

In a final move, they also called to the stand Lori's 16-year-old niece. She described her aunt as a loving person, who never got angry and never attacked anybody.

Closing arguments in the trial take place Wednesday morning.


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