Jury delivers guilty verdict in Norwich Goth strangulation case

A jury, after hearing nearly a month of unusual testimony in a case involving followers of the Goth subculture, found Kristopher Prudhomme guilty Friday after deliberating for just a few hours in New London Superior Court.

Prudhomme, 30, now of Houston, Texas, faces a maximum of 30 years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 26. He was taken into custody after Judge Barbara Bailey Jongbloed increased his bond from $250,000 to $600,000. In asking for the bond to be raised, the prosecutor requested that the judge order prison officials to provide attention to Prudhomme because he is autistic and possibly suicidal.

Prudhomme's father, who had watched the entire trial, and his mother, who viewed the past few days of testimony, were crying in the front row of the courtroom.

The jury of five men and one woman declined to comment on the verdict as they left the building. They had pronounced Prudhomme guilty of three of the five charges involving the Oct. 22, 2016, attack that left victim Michael Lovering with no legs. They said he was not guilty of first-degree assault with intent to cause serious physical injury, but guilty of first-degree assault under circumstances evincing an extreme indifference to human life. They found him not guilty of strangulation, but guilty of cruelty to persons and tampering with evidence.

"We appreciate the hard work of the jury," prosecutor Stephen M. Carney said. "This was a difficult case. It was long and sometimes tedious. They were careful and attentive, and this showed in their deliberations."

Carney thanked Inspector Rhett D'Amico, who he said did extraordinary work assembling the case, which involved multiple witnesses from out of state and a large number of exhibits. Also working with the prosecution was Victim Services Advocate Stephanie Barber, who called the victim at his home in Louisiana to tell him of the verdict.

Defense attorney Damon A.R. Kirschbaum declined to comment as he and his associates left the building.

The jury had re-listened to testimony from Lauren Muskus, the woman at the center of the conflict between Prudhomme and the victim, before rendering its verdict.

Lovering, who is confined to a wheelchair, had traveled from Louisiana to testify at the trial and had vomited at the witness stand during cross-examination by Kirschbaum.

Testimony at the trial had revealed that Prudhomme, then working as a draftsman at Electric Boat and living in an apartment on Main Street in Norwich, had invited Lovering to stay with him while Lovering got his life together. The two men were both involved in the Goth scene and had met while serving as DJs and music promoters in New Orleans clubs.

On Oct. 22, 2016, after coming home from a concert in New Haven, Lovering, who was drinking, admitted to Prudhomme that he had slept with Prudhomme's girlfriend, Muskus, while Prudhomme was at work, according to testimony.

Lovering said he was sitting on the floor, his legs tucked under him, when he felt pressure on his neck and passed out. Though he said Muskus was present in the room and witnessed the attack, she testified that she was in Prudhomme's room the entire night.

Though Muskus said she and Prudhomme could hear Lovering groaning in his bedroom, Prudhomme did not check on Lovering and call 911 for about 14 hours. During that time, Lovering, who still had his legs tucked beneath him when the first police officer arrived, had lost circulation to his legs. A surgeon had to amputate both limbs the next day.

The state had asserted that Prudhomme used a string from one of Lovering's leather corsets to strangle Lovering, who had red marks on his neck when first responders arrived. According to testimony, Prudhomme gave the corset to Muskus, who took it to her apartment in Monroe.

In addition to testimony about the Goth scene, with its pale makeup, eyeliner, dark clothing and electronic music, the jury had heard testimony that both Lovering and Prudhomme were involved in the BDSM sex scene. Two medical examiners had testified at the trial about the possible origin of the red marks around Lovering's neck. Thousands of pages of Facebook posts and text messages were entered into evidence, along with the corset and a whipping device, known as a flogger.

The defense had alleged that Lovering attempted suicide or was flagellating himself when he was injured.

k.florin@theday.com

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