Lillie Love, 65, slumped and wept on the witness stand Tuesday, barely responding to questions about her former Uptown neighbors, Octavia Gary and Anderson Soco.
She trembled as a jury listened to a tape of her 2013 interview with a New Orleans police detective, conducted just hours after Gary allegedly stabbed Soco, her boyfriend.
“They fight every day of the week. It’s mostly Octavia beats him up,” Love told the detective in the taped interview. “Just the other day she was beating on him, punching him. I never seen a woman beat on a man, and he don’t raise his hands.”
Love described the scene that unfolded in the wee hours of April 7, 2013, across from her house on Green Street in the Leonidas neighborhood. Gary, she told the detective, started in about midnight.
“I could not sleep for the fighting. It was like they was moving furniture around. She came out on the porch fussin’ and cussin’ at him,” Love said.
A few hours later, she said, Soco walked out to the front steps and clutched his chest. Gary followed, shouting curses at Soco, before they went back inside, still fighting.
“I heard it as though they were in my bedroom,” Love told the detective.
As the tape played, Love turned to Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Benedict Willard complaining of chest pains, prompting the judge to halt the trial for more than an hour.
Authorities say Soco, 40, remained alive for some 90 minutes, slowly bleeding inside before Gary called 911 to report he’d been stabbed. She told the dispatcher she didn’t know who had done it.
“Somebody dropped him off on the curb. I see he’s got a lot of blood,” she told the dispatcher. She even asked Soco how many times he’d been stabbed, in response to a dispatcher’s question. Once, she reported.
“Baby, baby, baby, baby,” Gary is heard saying over the 911 call, which came in shortly after 5 a.m.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Guillory told the jury that the knife slit through Soco’s ribs and clipped his heart, drawing a slow leak into his lungs before spilling out.
Guillory said it was the final violent act in a long pattern of abuse and that Gary had pushed Soco through a glass window less than a month earlier.The prosecutor described Soco as “a very gentle, very loving man, a man that loved Octavia Gary so much that he would turn the other cheek to all of her wrongs.”
Will Soco testified that he spoke with Anderson Soco on the phone that night as his brother walked home from Cooter Brown’s bar at the foot of Carrollton Avenue.
“He was telling me how he was saving a little money. Usually when he called me, he asked me for something,” Will Soco testified, weeping. “He was telling me he was good, he was straight.”
When Anderson Soco arrived at the house, he found Gary furious for having been left alone, Guillory told the jury.
“Maybe somebody else would have turned around and walked away — ‘I don’t want to deal with this’ — but not Anderson. He was used to that from the woman he loved,” the prosecutor said.
Gary, 35, refused several plea deals, including one final offer Tuesday of 20 years in prison on a manslaughter count.
She faces a possible life sentence if convicted of second-degree murder.
She also faces an obstruction of justice charge. Authorities say she waited to wash the sheets before calling 911.
Her attorney, Michael Idoyaga, noted to the jury that it was Gary who called police. He maintained that Soco came home already stabbed.
“If she wanted to kill him, she would have waited until he was dead” to call, Idoyaga said. “What we have here is a family that wants revenge, a family that doesn’t like her, and a prosecutor who’s saying what’s in her heart.”
The trial is expected to continue Wednesday.
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