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A Norwich courtroom filled with more spectators than usual was completely silent Wednesday as the mother of murder defendant Chad M. Schaffer's two children testified about her own role in the 2004 beating death of scientist Eugene Mallove.
Nobody shifted in his seat or coughed as 32-year-old Candace L. Foster admitted on the witness stand that Mallove, 56, was alive and begging for help when she went to the crime scene with Schaffer and his cousin Mozzelle Brown on May 14, 2004.
The two men had left the crime scene and returned with Foster "to make it look like a robbery," according to her testimony. Mallove, a well-regarded scientist from New Hampshire, was lying on the ground, face down and bloody, at his childhood home at 119 Salem Turnpike when she arrived with Schaffer and Brown, Foster said.
The two men flipped Mallove over and started removing his wallet, shoes and other possessions, she testified.
"Was he saying anything?" asked prosecutor Paul J. Narducci.
"'Help me,'" Foster responded.
"Did you?" Narducci asked.
"No," Foster said, looking down.
She avoided the gaze of her longtime boyfriend, who watched intently from his seat at the defense table. Schaffer, 34, is on trial for felony murder, conspiracy to commit murder, accessory to murder and third-degree robbery.
Foster, also charged with Mallove's murder, is considered a key witness in the state's case against her, Schaffer and Brown. The cousins allegedly confronted Mallove after Schaffer's mother called to say "the landlord" was throwing out her stuff at the home the family was evicted from in April 2004. Mallove had driven to Connecticut to clean out the property, which his mother owned and which has since been demolished.
Foster testified that the two men picked her up at her Chestnut Street apartment and told her to come with them to take care of some "business."
At the Mallove home, Schaffer hit her in the face and told her she had to take part in the crime so that she wouldn't tell on him, Foster said. She said blood was trickling from her nose as she struck Mallove in the head with a pipe and kicked him more than once. She said the two men forced her to drive Mallove's van from the scene because she was white - and therefore had less chance of being stopped.
Foster said they left Mallove's van in a Foxwoods parking lot and she went home and attempted to clean Schaffer's bloody clothing. When police came to the apartment the next morning, she said she lied about Schaffer's whereabouts and showed them clothes that Schaffer had not worn that day because she was afraid.
She also said she never told police about the box containing items from the crime, including Mallove's shoes and a camera stolen from his van, which Schaffer stored in a closet and eventually burned.
Foster entered into a witness protection program with her two children in the summer of 2009 and was arrested the following April after finally admitting she had taken part in the crime, according to her testimony. She is cooperating with the hope of getting leniency in her own case.
Foster's mother, who is caring for the children, was in court as her daughter, wearing shackles and prison garb, was led to the witness stand and swore to tell the truth.
Ethan Mallove, son of the victim, was sitting with several supporters. He testified on the first day of the trial and has remained in court to hear the horrific details of his father's death.
Throughout the day, staffers and other observers filtered in and out of the courtroom to listen to a few minutes of the dramatic testimony.
Schaffer's parents, whose eviction from the Mallove home in April 2004 allegedly led to the crime, sat outside the courtroom. Patricia and Roy Anderson are sequestered because they may be called to testify.
Foster said repeatedly that she did not come forward with information about the crime because she was afraid of Schaffer. She said they had an on-again, off-again relationship which began when she was 17 and he was 19. She said Schaffer had hit her, spit at her, flicked cigarettes at her and kicked her. She said he had called her names, including "bitch," "stupid" and "whore."
Foster will resume the witness stand today, when she is expected to undergo a thorough cross-examination by defense attorney Bruce B. McIntyre. Foster has admitted giving several inaccurate statements to the police.
McIntyre has also obtained school, medical and other records that chronicle Foster's history of behavioral problems and use of marijuana. The state is trying to keep some of the information from the jury, including teacher's reports that say Foster has a history of lying. Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed said she will rule on the state's objections as they come up during Foster's testimony.