The trial of Hiram Monserrate began yesterday with opening statements from each side. Not surprisingly, the prosecution and defense have starkly different accounts of how his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, ended up with a deep glass wound across her face last December. According to the defense, it was all the result of a series of slapstick mishaps that would put Steve Urkel to shame. And it all started when Monserrate, sweetheart that he is, brought his allegedly drunk girlfriend a glass of water.
“He stumbled in the confines of a small and pitch-dark room,” [defense attorney] Mr. Tacopina said. “In that instant, water splashed on Ms. Giraldo, startling her, causing her to jerk with an upwards motion, colliding with Mr. Monserrate’s hand, causing him to fall backwards onto the floor.”
After which he regained his composure and sheepishly asked, "Did I do that?" Seriously though, who among us hasn't involuntarily plummeted to the ground when their hand has been touched? Happens to us about a half-dozen times a day just taking the subway. Nevertheless, some people have a simpler explanation, one that doesn't involve a freak Rube Goldberg–esque chain reaction. People like the district attorney, Scott Kessler.
According to Kessler, Monserrate and Giraldo were heard arguing for nearly two hours by a downstairs neighbor before, at 2:40 a.m., there was a thud, and a woman crying. Later, at the hospital, Giraldo would recount to the ER doctor, Dawne Kort, what had happened:
Dr. Dawne Kort will testify that Ms. Giraldo told her: “I can’t believe he did this to me. My face! My face!” Mr. Kessler said.
He said Dr. Kort would also testify that Ms. Giraldo told her: “We were fighting. I asked for a glass of water.”
Mr. Monserrate, he said, then responded: “You want the water? You want the water? Here’s the water.” Whereupon, the prosecutor said, the glass broke in Mr. Monserrate’s hand and he swiped at Ms. Giraldo with a sharp piece, inflicting one cut horizontally over her left eye and a deeper vertical cut, wounds that took 20 stitches to close.
Which version of the events of December 19 is more believable? That's what Justice William Erlbaum will struggle with in the weeks ahead.