Updated 01/26/2012 07:27 PM
Marland Brooks' girlfriend testifies against him
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STEUBEN COUNTY, N.Y. -- It was an emotional first day of testimony in the murder trial for Marland Brooks. Brooks is accused of stabbing Clark Van Etten to death in his Corning apartment last June.
Five witnesses took the stand Thursday, including Brooks’ girlfriend and witness Samantha Smith.
Smith was originally charged with murder as well, but later accepted a plea deal. She promised to testify against Brooks in exchange for 10 years in jail for robbery.
Smith testified Thursday that Brooks and Van Etten fought in the early morning of June 18th over drugs and money. She said Van Etten was going to pay Brooks and Smith for crack cocaine, but disagreed on the amount. That’s when she says the fight got physical.
She testified that she saw Marland Brooks strike Clark Van Etten in the side, but made no mention of a knife. Brooks’ attorney says his client was defending himself.
"Really, what it boils down to is self-defense. Everything else in many respects is window-dressing," said Brooks' attorney David Morabito.
"Given the facts of the case, that's something that they certainly can claim. They can claim any defense they want. And what I think about it really doesn't matter. It's what the jury thinks about it at the end of the day," said Steuben County District Attorney Brooks Baker.
At one point, Smith mentioned on the stand that Brooks had previously spent time in jail. Marland Brooks' attorney asked for a mistrial, but that motion was denied.
Brooks faces two counts of murder, robbery and criminal possession of a weapon.
Samantha Smith will be back on the stand Friday.