Jurors look at key suitcase in Troy murder trial

November 06, 2017 06:25 PM

There was new testimony on Monday in the trial of Johnny Oquendo.

He's accused of killing his stepdaughter, Noel Alkaramla, then stuffing her body into a suitcase and tossing it into the Hudson River.

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Among the key witnesses testifying at the Rensselaer County Courthouse was a boat captain from Albany who works on the Dutch Apple Cruise Line. On November 27, 2015, that boat captain was standing on a sea wall six miles south of Albany, when he serendipitously spotted a suitcase floating down the Hudson River. It was his call to Troy police that got state police divers to search down in Albany. That eventually led to Noel Alkaramla's body being found in the suitcase on December 30, 2015.

Also on the witnesses stand was a state police forensics detective, who testified about the evidence he collected on the banks of the Hudson River in Troy and Albany. He spoke about preserving the evidence and sending it through the evidence chain.

Much of the evidence that has been presented so far has been circumstantial in nature. There really hasn't been much, if any, scientific evidence that connects Oquendo to the murder of his stepdaughter. We know that there will be as many as 12 more prosecution witnesses and we know that there will be at least one defense witness who has been subpoenaed.

When all is said and done, as many as 27 witnesses may appear before the jury.

Someone who is on that list, but doesn't really expect to testify, is Deborah Napoli-Oquendo. She is the ex-wife of the defendant, Johnny Oquendo and the mother of the murder victim, Noel Alkaramla.

"I have no idea why he would subpoena me, the mother of an angel that was taken out of this world in such a brutal matter," she noted.

Because Deborah has been subpoenaed as a witness by the defense counsel, it means she is not allowed inside the courtroom, where jurors would see her, perhaps at times, in an extremely emotional state.

"It's a very good legal move, especially when the jury wasn't here when it happened, so the jury could never see me." she explained.

Deborah says she feels tormented because she's forced to sit outside the courtroom, but she also has faith in the justice system. She says she will sit outside the courtroom every single day until there's justice for her daughter.

"I handed this to God a long time ago and I know that it's going to be okay," she explained.

Jurors will take Election Day off. Trial testimony then resumes for a half-day on Wednesday. There will be a full day on Thursday. However, jurors will have Friday off in observance of Veterans Day. That means the trial will extend into next week.


WNYT Staff

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