Opening statements begin this morning in the Santa Ana trial of a 52-year-old Laguna Woods man accused of strangling and murdering his 82-year-old widowed mother at the Leisure World home they shared.
The trial will be held in two phases because Ethan Emanuel Rosenfeld has entered pleas of "not guilty" and "not guilty by reason of insanity." One phase will determine guilt, the other sanity.
The Orange County District Attorney's Office lays out the case after the jump . . .
April 30, 2010
SON FACES TRIAL FOR STRANGLING AND MURDERING 82-YEAR-OLD WIDOWED MOTHER IN HER LEISURE WORLD HOME
SANTA ANA - A son faces trial Monday for strangling and murdering his 82-year-old widowed mother, with whom he was living in her Leisure World home. Ethan Emanuel Rosenfeld, 52, Laguna Woods, is charged with one felony count of murder and faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in state prison if convicted. Opening statements are scheduled to begin Monday, May 3, 2010, at 9:15 a.m. in Department C-30, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
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Between 4:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. on May 30, 2005, Rosenfeld is accused of strangling and murdering his 82-year-old widowed mother, Helen. He is accused of putting her dead body in her bed, crossing her arms across her chest, and wrapping her body in a sheet. The defendant, who was unemployed and living with his mother in her Leisure World home in Laguna Woods, is accused of then taking the victim's credit card and car and leaving.
Rosenfeld is accused of going to Starbucks and a gas station and trying to use his murdered mother's credit card to buy coffee and chewing tobacco. He is accused of driving around for a while before returning to the house. At approximately 10:00 a.m., Rosenfeld is accused of calling 911 and indicating that he found his mother dead and that she had passed away in her sleep.
As Rosenfeld entered pleas of "not guilty" and "not guilty by reason of insanity," the trial will be held in two phases. In the guilt phase, during which the court will hear evidence about the crime, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charged crime. In the sanity phase, a jury will consider evidence to determine if the defendant was legally sane at the time of the crime. When a defendant pleads "not guilty by reason of insanity," the burden is on the defense to prove that the defendant was more likely than not legally insane when he committed the crime. To be considered legally insane, the defense must prove that the defendant had a mental disease or defect when he committed the crime and that this defect kept the defendant from understanding the nature of his act or from understanding that his act was morally or legally wrong.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Ebrahim Baytieh of the Homicide Unit is prosecuting this case.