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Jill Sebastian knew almost immediately that her housemates Chad Schaffer and Candace Foster were involved in the May 14, 2004, death of Eugene Mallove, according to her testimony Tuesday at Schaffer's murder trial.
Mallove, a 56-year-old scientist from New Hampshire, had been fatally beaten in the driveway of his childhood home at 119 Salem Turnpike in Norwich. He was cleaning out the home, which his mother owned, after having evicted Schaffer's parents a month earlier.
Sebastian, a 32-year-old Preston native and mother of four, testified that she received a phone call on May 15, 2004, from Schaffer's girlfriend, Foster, who told her, "Chad beat up the landlord."
Sebastian and her boyfriend Keishon Dullivan and their children were living with Schaffer and Foster at the ArtSpace apartments on Chestnut Street in Norwich. Sebastian and Dullivan were in East Hartford on the night of the Mallove homicide but returned home the next day, according to her testimony.
In the days that followed, Foster, 32, would show her the bloody basketball jersey and pajama pants that Schaffer allegedly wore during the attack, according to Sebastian.
Schaffer would react strongly when the news of Mallove's death was broadcast on the TV news, according to Sebastian.
And one day, as they sat around Schaffer's apartment, Schaffer's cousin, Mozzelle Brown, would vividly describe the attack and re-enact it for a group of people.
"He was throwing punches with his right hand in the air and kicking the ground," Sebastian said. She testified that Brown had a "big smile on his face" and she couldn't understand why he was "hyped up and happy."
Schaffer "had a smirk on his face" while Brown was talking, according to Sebastian. She said he did not deny the attack on Mallove. She said Schaffer had Band-Aids on some of his knuckles and Brown had a white "first-aid wrap" around his right hand.
Schaffer, 34, is on trial in Superior Court in Norwich. Foster, who admitted going back to the crime scene with Schaffer and Brown and participating in the attack as Mallove lay on the ground begging for help, is incarcerated on murder charges and serving as a key witness for the state.
Brown, who is serving a 15-year-sentence in federal prison for drug and weapon charges, is accused of the murder but has not yet been served with an arrest warrant.
Prosecutor Thomas DeLillo successfully argued to allow the jury to see a photograph of a Nuggets mesh basketball jersey similar to the one that Sebastian said Schaffer wore that night. Defense attorney Bruce McIntyre objected to the photograph being shown to the jury, but Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed allowed it into evidence for demonstrative purposes and instructed the jury that the picture was not the actual shirt allegedly worn by Schaffer.
The crime scene investigators have indicated that Mallove's white T-shirt had a bloody imprint that may have been made from the pattern of his attacker's shirt. Sebastian also testified that she had seen a keychain at the ArtSpace apartment that was later found at the Mallove crime scene.
Sebastian said that Foster told her Schaffer had to beat up Mallove because Mallove called him a racial slur.
Sebastian said after she heard Brown's description of the crime, she asked Schaffer about it. Schaffer admitted hitting Mallove and said the victim had died "because he was an old dude," Sebastian testified.
"He said, 'Everything will be OK. We got right on the highway. The Norwich police will never figure it out,'" Sebastian testified. She said she told Foster that the police, who had briefly questioned Schaffer and Foster on the night of the crime, would be coming back.
The police did not return for five years. Sebastian and Dullivan came forward with information about the case after police reopened the investigation in 2009. Charges against the two men who were initially charged were dismissed after the state's case fell apart.
The trial resumes today.