Celestine Walker was strangled in her Jamaica Plain apartment in May 2013 in what authorities allege was an act of domestic violence by her onetime boyfriend, Phillip E. Carrington.
But as Carrington’s murder trial got underway in a Boston courtroom Tuesday, the defense, suggesting someone else might be the killer, played a chilling recording of an April 2013 conversation between the two in which Walker spoke of someone else wanting to harm her.
“Everyone wants to disrespect me now that you’re gone,’’ Walker told Carrington, who was being held at the time by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department in an unrelated case. “They want to dog me. And when I won’t go to bed with them, they want to choke me.’’
Defense lawyer Martin Murphy told the Suffolk Superior Court jury in his opening statement that Boston police had never tried to find out who Walker was talking about, one of seven major mistakes that he said detectives made during their investigation into the death of the 47-year-old mother of nine children.
Carrington, Murphy told jurors, had assaulted Walker during their often-turbulent relationship, but the history of violence was not proof that the 50-year-old Carrington strangled Walker and left her body lying on the floor of her apartment in the Bromley Heath housing development.
“They never tried to figure out who was dogging her,’’ he said. “They never tried to figure out who was trying to choke her. . . . They believed [Carrington killed] her simply because there was a past history of violence. That snap judgment shaped the entire police investigation.’’ Carrington has pleaded not guilty to murder and two counts of violating a restraining order.
Suffolk Assistant District Attorney Jennifer Hickman told the jury in her opening statement that the police were methodical in the way they investigated Walker’s death. And, she said, the testimony from witnesses will convince jurors to find Carrington guilty of murdering Walker.
“There wasn’t a rush to judgment,’’ she said. “The evidence is that the defendant killed her.’’
Hickman also said that a person whom Carrington claimed to have stayed with during the time Walker was killed will testify that he was not there. Among the first prosecution witnesses to take the stand was Shiani Glover, who testified she saw Carrington beat and choke Walker while she was living with Carrington.
Prosecutors said the victim never acknowledged to her family that Carrington hit her. Authorities said in March 2013, Walker got a one-year restraining order, but Carrington stayed at her home starting in May.
According to authorities, Walker’s body was found in an advanced state of decomposition on the living room floor on May 16, 2013. It wasn’t until September 2013 that authorities were able to determine she was strangled.
During his opening, Murphy also said police contaminated a blanket found inside Walker’s apartment that might have yielded useful DNA evidence.
Housing police were with maintenance workers when Walker’s body was discovered in the housing development. But, according to Murphy, Boston police did not ask for video from a nearby BHA surveillance camera for six months, and by that time, the video had been erased.
He also said police failed to fingerprint a telephone or analyze phone records, which he suggested would strengthen his contention that Carrington is an innocent man.
The trial resumes Wednesday before Superior Court Judge Frank Gaziano.