Opening Statement Heard in Porn Star Murder Case

Nov 17, 2011 3:15 PM PST

PASADENA, Calif. — The murder trial of porn star Felicia Tang got off the ground today more than two years after her death.

Defendant Brian Randone is accused of torturing, suffocating and murdering 31-year-old Tang, his live-in girlfriend at the time, inside the couple’s Monrovia apartment on Sept. 11, 2009.

Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney Philip Wojdak told a jury of nine women and three men that the medical examiner who conducted Tang's autopsy plans to testify that the wounds on her face are consistent with those caused by suffocation.

Wojdak showed the porn star's deceased face on a projector screen that brought on a loud sob by one audience member. He also displayed bloody images of Tang's body, with long gashes and swelling and bruising.

"What you're looking at is the classic kinds of wounds that you would expect to see when someone is smothered to death," Wojdak told the jury, which heard his opening statement at Pasadena Superior Court.

"Her struggle for life causes these particular type of wounds. These wounds are not only evidence of smothering, they're evidence of struggling and smothering."

Wojdak said the examiner counted 320 separate wounds caused by blunt force trauma from an unidentified "long, thin object." He also showed photos from the "extensively damaged" Monrovia apartment where she was killed.

"These are blunt force trauma wounds, they're wounds from being hit by something," Wojdak said.

Wojdak, in his opening statement, said he expected Randone's defense attorneys to argue that Tang died from a GHB overdose. The prosecutor conceded that Tang was a daily user of the drug and it sometimes cause seizures when abused, but Wojdak said doctors will testify that the injuries caused to Tang's face and body couldn't be caused by seizures.

Tang, whose birth name was Felicia Lee, became an online-adult top draw for seven years, from 2001 to 2008.

She starred in several Playboy TV shows, appeared in several Peach DVD movies, and she starred in the pay-per-view series “Strip Poker Tournament.” She also owned softcore site FeliciaTang.com.

Randone, an Omaha, Neb., native, is a former minister and mime who was featured on a 2000 Fox reality show "The Sexiest Bachelor in America."

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UPDATE (8:55 p.m.): Defense attorney Ed Rucker in his opening statement said the asphyxiation death was a "tragic accident" caused by an overdose of the drug GHB, not the actions of his client.  

"We feel evidence is going to show that there was not a crime committed here ... that this is a tragic accident," Rucker said. "This is not a case of who caused the death of Felicia Lee. This is not a whodunit. This is a question of what caused her death."

Rucker said he intends to call an expert who will testify that Tang died from a GHB overdose.He suggested that some of the abrasions and bruises were caused by her fall into a closet.

The defense attorney said it was impossible for Randone to have killed her at the time of death, which would have coincided with Randone's business calls.

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