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Carasi Wished Ex-Lover Dead, Witness Says : Courts: According to co- worker, man held in Mother's Day slayings was angered by victim's custody fight.

August 15, 1995|HENRY CHU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A North Hollywood man charged with killing his mother and an ex-girlfriend on Mother's Day told colleagues that he would punish his former lover for trying to win sole custody of their son and wished she was dead, a witness testified at a preliminary hearing Monday.

"That bitch won't get away with it. . . . I'll get her one day," Paul Carasi said, according to testimony by Robert Mora, a co-worker.

Mora said Carasi made the statement about a month before Carasi's ex-girlfriend, Sonia Salinas, and Carasi's mother, Doris, were found stabbed to death at Universal CityWalk in May. Mora said Carasi was angry that Salinas had tried to attach Carasi's wages.

Mora's stark testimony came under questioning from prosecutors during the second day of a preliminary hearing for Carasi and his girlfriend, Donna K. Lee, who has also been charged with the May 14 killings.

In addition to eliciting testimony Monday from Mora and other employees at the Bank of America's Downtown Los Angeles processing center--where Carasi, Lee and Salinas all worked--Deputy Dist. Atty. John Gilligan revealed outside of court that he expects to show that Lee was at CityWalk about an hour before Carasi, his mother and Salinas arrived for a festive Mother's Day dinner. The prosecution has parking ticket stubs proving her presence, he said.

During the hearing in Beverly Hills Municipal Court, which will determine whether Carasi and Lee will be bound over for trial, Gilligan concentrated on Carasi and tried to establish a rancorous relationship between him and Salinas following their breakup.

Fellow bank employee Wendy B. Osiow testified that she overheard Carasi react bitterly when another co-worker commented that Salinas would be "getting half of [Carasi's] stuff now."

" 'Yeah, I wish she were dead,' " Osiow said that Carasi replied.

Under cross-examination by an attorney for Carasi, Osiow acknowledged that Carasi had not mentioned Salinas by name. She also said that, despite a longstanding friendship between her and Lee, "I stay as far away from Paul as possible," although she did not give details as to why.

A former supervisor of Carasi's testified that she ran into Carasi and Lee at CityWalk the weekend before the slayings. Adrienne Husmann said she encountered Carasi and Lee on the evening of May 6 as she and a group of friends--including Carasi's boss at the time--were strolling through the Universal Studios promenade attraction.

Lee appeared taken aback to see Husmann, and Carasi said hello but kept on walking without stopping to chat, which Husmann said she found odd.

Prosecutors allege that the evening was one of at least two occasions on which Carasi and Lee reconnoitered the area as part of their plot to kill Doris Carasi, 61, and Salinas, 29. Additional parking stubs show that the pair were there in April as well, Gilligan said.

Husmann testified under cross-examination that she had no knowledge of any "agenda" on the part of Carasi and Lee in visiting CityWalk on May 6.

Doris Carasi and Salinas were found with their throats slit atop a CityWalk parking structure following the Mother's Day dinner. Paul Carasi initially claimed he was jumped by an unseen assailant who knocked him unconscious and cut his finger. He later told investigators that he feigned unconsciousness after a struggle and found the two women dead when he opened his eyes.

In a bizarre twist, Lee was found bleeding from a gash in her abdomen after she telephoned for help about 15 minutes after the attack from a call box on the Hollywood Freeway, about four miles from CityWalk. Lee said she had been stabbed during a robbery along the freeway, where she had stopped to rest because she felt ill.

A blood-stained kitchen knife, a pair of bloody gloves and two blood-stained fanny packs were discovered near where Lee had stopped.

Although investigators have speculated that her wound was self-inflicted, Gilligan said Monday that he believes Lee was slashed during a violent struggle with Salinas, who coroner's reports show put up some resistance before she died.

The prosecution contends that Lee stopped beside the freeway to throw away the knife and fanny packs and had to call for help after she accidentally locked herself out of the car.

Gilligan said he expects the preliminary hearing to finish today with testimony from criminalists who will point out contradictions between Carasi's version of events and evidence found at the scene.

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