What to expect Monday when Alianna DeFreeze murder trial resumes - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

What to expect Monday when Alianna DeFreeze murder trial resumes

The death penalty trial of Christopher Whitaker is underway in Cleveland.  (Source WOIO) The death penalty trial of Christopher Whitaker is underway in Cleveland. (Source WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

The death penalty trial of Christopher Whitaker is underway in Cleveland.

Whitaker is charged with brutally murdering 14-year-old Alianna DeFreeze in January of 2017.

The court was in recess Friday. The trial will resume on Monday.

Whitaker's lawyers told jurors in opening statements that even though Whitaker admits to all the crimes against Alianna, there's a process before the judge decides to sentence him to death.

"Mr. Whitaker says to the detectives, I take responsibility and I don't want to make a circus out of this. I did it. I'm sorry, people will think I'm a monster, I was under the influence of drugs, I blacked out, I want to apologize to her family, even though they'll never accept it," said defense attorney Tom Shaunghnessy.

The registered sex offender is on trial for kidnapping, raping and brutally murdering the 14-year-old girl and if convicted could face the death penalty.

Prosecutors say last year, Alianna was on her way to school when Whitaker snatched her near her RTA bus stop at East 93rd Street and Kinsman Avenue.

Police found her body in an abandoned home on Fuller Avenue three days later, just blocks from her bus stop.

Thursday in court, jurors watched surveillance video from the #14  RTA bus---moments before Alianna was abducted.

Her mother Donesha Cooper testified, it was the last time she saw her daughter alive.

Her father and stepmother say the details of what Christopher Whitaker did to their daughter are so graphic, they can't stand to be in the same room with him.

"No matter what sentence he has or what fate he reaches, they say that time heals all wounds but this is one that I don't think will be able to be healed," said Damon DeFreeze.

Several Cleveland Police detectives and an FBI agent also testified about the day they found Alianna.

Prosecutors showed the jury graphic photos of her naked body bloodied, beaten and crumpled in the corner of the abandoned home.  

We will not show them on our air or online.

They also showed the hand tools: electric drill, box cutter, screwdriver and knife that Whitaker used to kill her, while she was still alive.

Some jurors were visibly shaking.

Whitaker sat with his head down and hands folded, no expression on his face.

"We can tell you the story of what happened to Alianna, not because we want to but because we have to because she deserves justice and we have the burden to show exactly what Mr. Whitaker did to that girl," said Assistant District Attorney, Andrew Santolli.

Court resumes Monday with more testimony from witnesses.

The photos are so graphic the judge has banned live streaming or any social media for that day.

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