Under questioning by defense lawyer Bruce Raticoff, Edwin Maldonado, 53, told jurors that ex-girlfriend Joann Beaudoin, 44, called him in the early morning on Dec. 2, 2010, and invited him to her home. When Maldonado got there, he found his ex naked and about to have sex with Bryan Andrew Bennett, 51, with whom he had gotten into a bar fight hours earlier.
Maldonado claimed Bennett flew into a rage and attempted to grab a knife that was on a nearby nightstand, but Maldonado got to it first. Beaudoin was then fatally wounded when Bennett kicked her away from him and into the blade, he said.
Maldonado broke down in tears so often during his testimony that Broward Circuit Judge Barbara McCarthy had to remove the jury from the courtroom three times to warn the defendant to stick to answering the questions asked by prosecutor Lanie Bandell.
Bandell repeatedly challenged Maldonado on his self-defense claims, asking why Beaudoin would have invited him to her home when she had sent him repeated text messages ordering him to stay away from her and was in the process of obtaining a restraining order against him. Bandell also asked why Maldonado had no stab wounds while Bennett had 15.
"I was defending myself," he sobbed, turning to the judge. "The man wouldn't stop. I feared for my life … He told me he was going to kill me. What do you expect me to do? I feared for my life, your Honor."
Prosecutors say Maldonado stabbed the pair to death out of anger and jealousy. According to a Miramar police detective who testified earlier in the trial, Beaudoin had called Bennett the night leading up to the stabbings to tell him Maldonado had broken windows in her Miramar apartment.
Bennett and another man got into a fist fight later that night at a bar on Pembroke Road near Florida's Turnpike. Maldonado described himself as the hapless victim of that fight, double-teamed by larger, stronger men.
A surveillance video recorded later that night at a different bar showed Maldonado staring at the two men. Maldonado claimed he was in fear during that time and wanted to make sure the two men didn't attack him. But Blandell noted that Maldonado was right near the bar's exit and could have left at any time if he feared a confrontation.
"I didn't feel like I had to leave," he replied. "I didn't do anything wrong to nobody."
But in a phone call to a friend shortly after the killings, Maldonado said nothing about self-defense, Blandell said. Instead, he called it a retaliation.
Maldonado faces life in prison if convicted of two counts of first-degree murder. Closing arguments are scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.