Updated 09/24/2009 10:04 PM
Medical Staff Testifies In Monserrate Trial
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An emergency room's attending physician took the stand Thursday in the assault trial of State Senator Hiram Monserrate.
Monserrate is accused of slashing his girlfriend Karla Giraldo in the face with broken glass in a jealous rage back in December, but the defense maintains it was a freak accident.
During her testimony, the doctor says the senator's girlfriend didn't want hospital officials to call police, but they did anyway when her story turned out to be inconsistent with Monserrate's version.
According to the doctor, when Monserrate told hospital officials that it was an accident, Giraldo became very upset and repeated over and over that it was not an accident.
The doctor also admitted Giraldo kept changing her own version of what happened that night.
Monserrate's defense said that Giraldo's statements in the emergency room were invalid because she was drunk and faced language barriers. However, the doctor said she is bilingual and that she and Giraldo were speaking in both English and Spanish.
Giraldo also admitted to the emergency room staff that she drank wine that night but was not given an alcohol test.
Defense lawyers, however, argued the doctor's own memory may not be accurate since it wasn't until two weeks after the accident that she wrote down her testimony to the grand jury.
"Clearly, you know, she said things very differently than she said on December 18, 2009, the date of the accident," said Defense Attorney Joseph Tacopina. "She had none of the statements that were brought to her today that were used to try and incriminate Senator Monserrate, and there's really no reason why those wouldn't have been in her contemporaneous notes, the law requires it to be in her notes, the hospital policy requires it. And you know when those notes suddenly appear 18 days later with cross outs and everything through them, she had no explanation as to why it took her 18 days to write all her thoughts down."
Wednesday's testimony focused on the lawmaker's decision to bring his girlfriend to Long Island Jewish Hospital, 40 minutes away from his house in Queens. Elmhurst Hospital is much closer.
Prosecutors questioned what motivated Monserrate to drive so far. But his attorneys say Monserrate wanted to get girlfriend Karla Giraldo the best possible treatment.
"If he'd gone to a private doctor's office at 4 in the morning, I could see them thinking he was trying to hide something," said Joseph Tacopina, Monserrate's attorney. "He did something knowing that it was going to blow up his world, create a firestorm, which it did. He did it because it was what the right thing to do at the time for that lady."
A plastic surgeon testified Giraldo's injuries required as many as 40 stitches, but could not rule out the possibility that the cuts resulted from an accident.