Trial begins in Norwich "Goth" strangulation case

Michael Lovering was in "an unnatural position" when police went to his apartment at 586 E. Main St. in Norwich two years ago for a reported suicide attempt, according to testimony Tuesday in New London Superior Court.

The 35-year-old, who had moved north recently from Baton Rouge, La., was lying on his back in his bedroom with his legs bent at the knees and his feet tucked under his buttocks. He had a mixture of vomit and dried blood on his chest and a thin red indentation on his neck, consistent with a ligature mark.

Circulation to his legs had been cut off for so long that doctors had to amputate both limbs.

His roomate, Kristopher P. Prudhomme, told first responders he didn't know what happened to Lovering, but suggested repeatedly that Lovering had attempted to commit suicide.

The state alleges something more malevolent occurred on Oct. 22, 2016, that Prudhomme, jealous Lovering had slept with Prudhomme's girlfriend, strangled Lovering with a string from a leather corset. Police say they didn't find a rope or other type of ligature in the apartment that day and learned later that the girlfriend, Lauren Muskus, took the corset to her apartment in Monroe.

Prudhomme, 30, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of first-degree assault, second-degree assault, first-degree strangulation, intentional cruelty to persons and tampering with physical evidence. He turned down a plea offer that involved serving several years in prison and opted to have his case heard by a jury of six.

The first day of trial included testimony from police and a paramedic who were working that day and provided hints of what is to come as State's Attorney Stephen M. Carney and Inspector Rhett D'Amico present the evidence: glimpses of Goth culture, testimony about alcohol abuse and autism and extensive medical records.

Defense attorneys Damon A.R. Kirschbaum and Vishal K. Garg have indicated through intense questioning of potential jurors, multiple pretrial motions and continuous courtroom objections to the prosecution's evidence that they intend to mount an aggressive defense.

The "Kris with a K" Prudhomme who called 911 two years ago and answered the door for Patrolman Jared Homand looked significantly different than the man with the neat haircut, dark framed glasses and buttoned down attire who sat in court with his two lawyers Tuesday. Back then, Prudhomme had shoulder length black hair, dressed in black and appeared to be wearing eyeliner and makeup to make his face appear pale, Homand testified.

Prudhomme has since relocated to Texas and was accompanied in court by his father.

The prosecution elicited testimony Tuesday from retired police Sgt. Darren Powers, Homand, Patrolman Anthony Marceau and American Ambulance Paramedic MacKenzie Kelsey. The emergency room doctor from the William W. Backus Hospital who treated Lovering is expected to testify on Wednesday.

Lovering, who has moved back to Louisiana, is flying to Connecticut and is expected to testify on Thursday and Friday, according to the state.

On Tuesday, the jury listened to recordings of the 911 call placed by Prudhomme at 5:35 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 22, 2016, in which he calmly explained that his roommate had vomited all over himself, was incoherent and had a "red ring around his neck" which Prudhomme suggested may have been the result of a suicide attempt. He said Lovering had attempted suicide by hanging in the past.

But the first patrolmen on the scene, Homand and Marceau, couldn't find a rope or other ligature-like item during a cursory search of the apartment. Kelsey, the paramedic, testified that something didn't seem right, and she worked to get Lovering out of the apartment quickly. Prudhomme was acting suspiciously, she said, and his story kept changing. Though he said Lovering had attempted to hang himself, that didn't appear to be the case, she said.   

Police allege in an arrest warrant that Lovering, Prudhomme and Muskus went to a punk rock concert in New Haven on Oct. 21, 2016 and returned to Norwich together.

Lovering, interviewed a few weeks after the incident, said he and Muskus were in his bedroom having a conversation about their sexual relationship when he was attacked. He said he was sitting on the floor with his back to the door when somebody came up behind him, wrapped something around his neck and choked him. He said he saw Muskus' facial expression "turn to horror before everything went black."

"The next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital with his legs amputated," the affidavit states.

He was in a medically induced coma and on a respirator for several days, and doctors had to amputate both of his legs because they had not received proper circulation for 12 to 14 hours, according to the affidavit.

k.florin@theday.com

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