In their senior year at Wayland High School, Genevieve Madelaine Flynn considered Nathaniel Fujita a friend: They hung out with the same tight group, ran track together, and he was dating her best friend, Lauren Astley.
On Wednesday, Flynn’s voice shook as she identified Fujita in Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn; she wept as she remembered the last day of Astley’s life.
Astley dropped her off after a sleepover, Flynn said, and went to meet her father before going to work. It was the last time Flynn saw her.
Fujita, 20, is charged with first-degree murder in Astley’s death on July 3, 2011. He is accused of inviting the 18-year-old Astley to his Wayland home and telling her to park out of sight, and then strangling her, slashing her throat, and dumping her body in a marsh.
Prosecutors say he was angry that she broke up with him; Fujita’s lawyer, William Sullivan, has argued that Fujita was suffering a psychotic episode.
Flynn, 20, spoke softly from the stand on Wednesday, giving short answers and several times dropping her head into her hands to cry. Fujita, who has spent much of his trial sitting straight up and showing no emotion, kept his head down throughout her testimony.
Flynn was one of two members of Fujita’s close-knit group of high school friends to testify on Wednesday. Ronald Bolivar III, who played football and ran track with Fujita, testified as well, and said he did not notice a change in Fujita’s character in the months leading up to the killing.
Both Flynn and Bolivar testified that Astley had begun talking to other young men after breaking up with Fujita for good.
During his opening statement, Sullivan said that Fujita had fallen into a major depression around the time of his breakup with Astley and stopped socializing or leaving his home in the weeks leading up to her death, instead smoking marijuana and sleeping late.
But both Flynn and Bolivar said Fujita attended some of the same senior year parties they did and appeared to interact normally with other people.
One photo from a jungle-themed party in March, 2011, showed Fujita with a wide grin, arms slung around the shoulders of two smiling girls dressed in animal prints.
Another photo, from a graduation party thrown by one of Fujita’s friends on June 11, 2011, shows Fujita standing in a row with three of his close friends. In front of each young man hangs his high school sports jersey and the jersey of the college for which he expected to play.
Prosecutor Lisa McGovern asked Bolivar what Fujita’s mood was on June 11.
“I would say it was happy, friendly, just like the rest of us,” said Bolivar.
But, on cross examination, Sullivan pointed out that neither Flynn nor Bolivar had seen Fujita after the middle of June.
“There’s no photographs after June 11, are there?” Sullivan asked Bolivar.
Sullivan also asked Bolivar if he remembered Fujita getting hit so hard during a football game that he spit up blood and had to be hospitalized. Bolivar said yes, but that Fujita took fewer hits than other players on the football team.
In an interview, Sullivan declined to comment on whether Fujita’s head injury would play any part in his defense.
Bolivar testified that he and Fujita had been close friends: They had classes together, worked out together, and drove to school together every day their senior year. But Fujita bowed his head during much of Bolivar’s testimony, and the two men did not appear to look at each other even as Bolivar crossed the room to explain a photograph directly in front of the defendant.
Jurors also heard testimony from Anna Sharry, 19, who said she saw Fujita driving shirtless with his windows down and music blasting on Route 27 in Wayland at around 7:45 p.m. the night that Astley was killed. McGovern alleged in her opening statement that that was right after he dumped Astley’s body in a marsh off Water Row in Wayland.
Sharry said Fujita did not look at her as she drove past him. “I didn’t really notice any expression, just kind of focused,” she said.
In the morning testimony, State Police Trooper David Twomey said that when police searched Fujita’s home in the days following Astley’s slaying they found what appeared to be bloodstains in the kitchen and bathroom, as well as a reddish brown stain on the floor of the garage.
Fujita faces charges of first-degree murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and one count of assault and battery. If convicted, he faces life in prison without parole.