Guest testifies at Norwich strangulation trial
Michael Lovering was swigging rum from a bottle, stumbling around his Norwich apartment and slurring his words as he talked about his sexual prowess in the early morning hours of Oct. 22, 2016, according to testimony Monday in New London Superior Court.
Chandler Gottshall testified Monday morning at the trial of Kristopher P. Prudhomme, 30, now of Houston, Texas. Prudhomme is Lovering's former friend and roommate who is accused of using the string from a leather corset to strangle Lovering after Lovering confessed he had sex with Prudhomme's girlfriend. The state alleges Prudhomme left Lovering in an unnatural position in his bedroom for hours before calling for help. Lovering's legs were folded beneath him, resulting in a loss in circulation that necessitated amputation.
Prudhomme 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.
Gottshall, who works as a security supervisor at Mohegan Sun, testified that she and her then-boyfriend, who lived in the neighborhood, had just returned home to the boyfriend's apartment on Main Street at about 2:30 a.m. She said Lovering, whom they had never met, motioned them from across the street and invited them over for a drink. They went inside Lovering's apartment for a drink, and met Prudhomme and his girlfriend, Lauren Muskus. It was friendly at first, Gottshall testified. She and Prudhomme talked about the differences between Norwich and New Orleans, where he had lived previously.
Lovering, Prudhomme and Muskus had arrived home a short time earlier from a club in New Haven, according to previous testimony. Gottshall said Lovering was wearing eye liner and Prudhomme was wearing dark lipstick and facial makeup.
Lovering was drinking white rum straight from the bottle and taking sips out of a drink from a red Solo cup, she testified. He fell against the kitchen stove at one point. Prudhomme was drinking, but didn't seem intoxicated, Gottshall said.
"It began to get uncomfortable when Mr. Lovering began talking about sex and bondage," Gottshall testified.
After a while, she said, Lovering went into the bedroom and called Prudhomme in. She said Lovering came out of the bedroom, pulled her and her boyfriend aside, and confessed he had slept with Prudhomme's girlfriend. He was upset and told them to leave, Gottshall testified.
Prudhomme, she said, looked less angry than she thought he would be after learning his friend had slept with his girlfriend. He was calm, though he seemed as if he had been caught off guard. Gottshall said she and her boyfriend left at about 3:15 a.m.
The state alleges that around that time, Prudhomme came up behind Lovering as Lovering sat in his bedroom talking to Muskus, and drew the corset string around the front of Lovering's neck. Lovering had a red ring around his neck, according to first responders who were called to the house at 5:30 p.m.
Lovering, 37, traveled from Louisiana last week to testify about the incident. He said he didn't see who attacked him, but that Prudhomme was the only other person in the apartment besides him and Muskus.
Senior Assistant State's Attorney Stephen M. Carney and Inspector Rhett D'Amico are expected to continue calling witnesses this week before defense attorneys Damon A.R. Kirschbaum and Vishal K. Garg present their case.
It is unclear when Muskus, who also is charged in the incident, will be called to testify.
On Monday afternoon, Norwich Police Detective Kyle Besse began testifying and the jurors began watching a videotaped interview of Prudhomme conducted at police headquarters two weeks after the incident. Prudhomme appeared calm as Besse went through phone messages Prudhomme had sent after the incident. He told Besse about Lovering's problems with drugs and about Lovering's revelation that he had slept with Prudhomme's girlfriend.
Prudhomme told the detective that Lovering began "slut-shaming" Muskus, which he said is when "a guy has sex with a girl and turns around and calls her a whore." He said he put Lovering to bed and maintained that Lovering had attempted to strangle himself.
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