Suitcase takes center stage at Troy murder trial

November 14, 2017 06:06 PM

A key piece of evidence was shown Tuesday in the Johnny Oquendo murder trial. Jurors got to see the suitcase that prosecutors say they found Noel Alkaramla's body in.

It was another bizarre and unusual day at the Rensselaer County Courthouse. Testimony included a self-professed psychic, who claimed she has the ability to talk to the dead. However, it was also a day the prosecution was finally able to link the suitcase to the defendant, Johnny Oquendo.

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Amanda Whitman, 37, Oquendo's former girlfriend, was recalled to the witness stand on Tuesday. During which time, the suitcase in which Alkaramla's body was found was shown to jurors for the first time.

Whitman took one look at the suitcase and said it was Oquendo's.

On cross-examination from the lead defense attorney, Bill Roberts, attempted character assault was immediate and constant. Whitman was forced to admit that when Oquendo broke up with her two days before Alkaramla disappeared, she became a frequent and excessive drug and alcohol abuser and also that she sent hundreds of nasty text messages to people, saying that she hopes Oquendo kills himself or dies of AIDS like his dad did.

When Roberts asked her what kind of drugs she was using, Whitman invoked the Fifth Amendment at least half a dozen times, but even after the district attorney broke down and granted immunity on the drug crimes, she only admitted to using pot and booze.

Roberts was hoping to discredit her in the eyes of the jury. If he's able to do that, there's no connection to the suitcase for Oquendo.

Some mental health records that were subpoenaed for Whitman began arriving at the courthouse late Tuesday afternoon.

Whitman will retake the witness stand Wednesday morning for the final round of cross-examination. When that happens, the prosecution will rest the case and the defense is expected to call at least two witnesses to the witness stand.

The trial testimony is expected to wrap-up Thursday. Summations are also expected that day.

Testimony resumes at 10 a.m. on Wednesday morning.


WNYT Staff

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