Michel Escoto cross-examines ex-mother-in-law in court

Man accused of killing new bride in 2002 to collect life insurance policy

Michel Escoto, who is acting as his own attorney in his murder trial, cross-examines his former mother-in-law.

MIAMI – A man accused of killing his wife less than a week after they were married cross-examined his former mother-in-law in a Miami courtroom Monday.

Michel Escoto is acting as his own attorney in his murder trial.

Several times throughout the day, the judge warned Escoto about his conduct in court.

"Give me one quick second judge," he said after one incident before talking to one of his standby attorneys. 

Much of the testimony centered on when Wendy Trapaga's family learned about her $1 million life insurance policy. 

Prosecutors allege Escoto drugged his new bride three days after their wedding and choked her to death in 2002 in an effort to collect the insurance money.

Emotional at times, Myriam Benitez had to answer questions from the man accused of killing her daughter. Among the questions he asked Benitez was if she thought he killed her daughter after he did not offer to pay for the funeral.

"I never thought you would be capable of something like that," Benitez answered through a translator. "You were her husband."

Escoto wasn't charged in his wife's death until 2005 after he stopped trying to collect the insurance money.

It was at that point that prosecutors said they learned Escoto's ex-girlfriend helped him kill his wife. Prosecutors offered her immunity in exchange for her testimony.

The trial began last week and is expected to last several more. If convicted, Escoto faces life in prison.