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Trial Starts for Santa Barbara Man Accused of Murdering Ex-Girlfriend in 2014

The trial for a Santa Barbara man accused of stabbing his former girlfriend to death in 2014 began this week, with attorneys presenting their opening statements to the jury Wednesday in Santa Barbara Superior Court.

In October 2014, Aubrey Dupree Wadford was arrested at Angela Laskey’s apartment on the 500 block of West Los Olivos Street after Santa Barbara Police found Laskey on the floor with multiple stab wounds.

Deputy District Attorney Hannah Lucy, in her opening statement to the jury, characterized Wadford, 39 at the time of his arrest, as jealous and controlling, saying that his arguments with Laskey became increasingly confrontational and physical after she found a new boyfriend.

Wadford and Laskey, 39, had a child together, and their daughter was 2 years old when Laskey died.

“He believed Angela was his, and he didn’t want her moving on to someone else,” Lucy said.

Both Lucy and Wadford’s attorney, Deputy Public Defender Mindi Boulet, described how the two lived together most of the week at Laskey’s apartment, that they increasingly argued, and that their frayed relationship culminated in Wadford stabbing her repeatedly.

Lucy said Laskey allowed Wadford to stay over several nights a week in exchange for child care, and that on Oct. 29, 2014, he stabbed her in the neck and throat.

Boulet said calling the incident a “tragedy” was “an understatement,” but painted Wadford as a dedicated father who was often over at Laskey’s to look after their daughter, and occasionally remained intimate with Laskey.

Boulet said their intensifying arguments, his belief that her new relationship would not last, and Laskey’s intention to move back to her native United Kingdom with their daughter caused Wadford to panic when he woke up from a nap next to their daughter to find her gone from his side.

Boulet said an ensuing struggle escalated, Wadford picked up a knife, and both hurt the other.

“It should have stopped there,” she said, but Wadford stabbed Laskey again.

Santa Barbara police officers Nathan Beltran and Blake Burgard responded to the scene after a neighbor called 9-1-1.

Beltran, the trial’s first witness, said the neighbor told him he had heard Laskey screaming “bloody murder.”

Wadford unlocked the door after Beltran said he had knocked repeatedly for over two minutes asking to be let in.

He said he found Laskey covered in blood on the floor in the dimly lit apartment, blood on Wadford’s hands and parts of his clothing, and what he said appeared to be a laceration on one of his hands.

Paramedics declared Laskey dead at the scene.

Beltran said Wadford appeared “calm and content” and had a blank stare on his face. The only emotion he showed, Beltran added, was when he asked if he could smoke a cigarette after he was led outside and was told no, and he became frustrated.

Beltran said Wadford told him that his child was the only other person in the residence, and Burgard has previously testified that he had found the toddler unhurt watching television from her bed in another room.

Testimony in the case resumes Thursday morning.

Noozhawk staff writer Sam Goldman can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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