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Opening statements underway this morning in Nathaniel Fujita's murder trial

Posted by Evan Allen  February 13, 2013 11:00 AM

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Opening statements got underway this morning in the murder trial of Nathaniel Fujita, a Wayland man accused of murdering his former high-school sweetheart in July of 2011.

According to Twitter accounts from the courtroom by WBZ radio, the prosecutor in the case described Fujuita's relationship with his former girlfriend Lauren Astley, whom he dated until their senior year of high school. He later became hostile, the prosecutor said.

Fujita is accused of strangling and slashing to death Astley on July 3, 2011. Both were 18 years old at the time, and were college-bound Wayland High School graduates; Fujita was an accomplished athlete and Astley a talented singer. They had recently broken up.

Fujita allegedly dumped Astley’s body in a wooded marsh in Wayland, where a cyclist found it the next day.

He is facing charges of first-degree murder, two charges of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of assault and battery. If he is convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.

Defense attorneys also gave their version of events Wednesday morning, according to WBZ.

Jury selection was completed on Tuesday at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn.

Fujita’s lawyer, William Sullivan, said on Tuesday that his client’s defense would likely rest on “a question of criminal responsibility.” On Monday, the judge told prospective jurors that the insanity defense was likely to be used by the defense.

If Fujita is found not guilty because of a lack of criminal responsibility, Fujita would be committed indefinitely, said Sullivan. He would undergo periodic evaluations about his safety and condition.

In court, Fujita, now 20, appeared composed Tuesday. He waved briefly to his parents, who were sitting in the first row behind the defense table, when he walked into the courtroom.

Sullivan declined to comment on his client’s emotional state. On Monday, Fujita cried as he was introduced to the jury; on Tuesday, he appeared calm and talked frequently to Sullivan.

Potential jurors were asked about their psychological histories as well as about drug and alcohol involvement; some were asked about their families and whether they had sons or daughters.

Asked what type of juror he was looking for, Sullivan said there was no single blanket statement that would describe his ideal jury.

“What we’re looking for is a jury that can be fair and impartial,” he said.

The trial is expected to take about three weeks. The jury will likely begin deliberating in early March, according to the judge.

Evan Allen can be reached at evan.allen@globe.com

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