Michel Escoto questions ex-girlfriend in murder trial

Yolanda Cerrillo says of defendant's wife: 'I wished she would go away'


MIAMI – A man accused of killing his wife less than a week after they were married questioned his ex-girlfriend in court Wednesday, one day after she testified in his murder trial that she helped him plan the crime.

Michel Escoto, who is acting as his own attorney, is accused of using a tire iron to bludgeon his new bride, Wendy Trapaga, in 2002 to collect her $1 million life insurance policy.

Escoto wasn't charged until 2005 after he stopped trying to collect the insurance money.

Prosecutors objected to almost every question Escoto asked Yolanda Cerrillo as he cross-examined her.

At one point, prosecutor Gail Levine expressed her dismay with Escoto.

"It is obnoxious that he sits in front of this court, says he wants to represent himself, says he knows the rules and then flies in the face of this court time and again," Levine said in court.

Stumbling over his feet and words, Escoto did manage to ask Cerrillo if she hated Trapaga.

"I hated what she stood for," Cerrillo said. "I didn't know who she was. I didn't… I hated the whole situation. I hated that you left. I hated that she was pregnant."

Escoto then asked if Cerrillo wanted her dead.

"I wished she would go away," Cerrillo replied.

Cerrillo testified Tuesday that she was desperately in love with Escoto and did everything possible to keep him in her life, including helping him practice killing his wife. She explained how Escoto originally planned to drown her, but Cerrillo told her it would not work because it would leave bruises.

Prosecutors offered Cerrillo immunity in exchange for her testimony.

"It doesn't stop how bad I feel," Cerrillo said.

If convicted, Escoto faces life in prison.