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Sangamon County Murder, Dismemberment Trial Begins
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The first day of trial is in the books for the woman accused of killing her husband. In opening statements, Sangamon County State's Attorney John Milhiser painted a picture of how 22-year-old Illinois guardsman Norman Raymel McCaster was dismembered and dumped; and how his
wife soon after filed for divorce.
"A monster" is how McCaster's cousin Faith Payne describes his wife, 24-year-old Juatasha Denton-McCaster. She is charged with murder, dismembering a body, and concealing the death of her husband.
Prosecutors say Denton-McCaster dumped her husband's torso in rural Mechanicsburg on October 29, 2012. His head and limbs are still missing.
Prosecutors used a projector to show several close-up pictures of McCaster's headless, handless and footless body. The defendant didn't look at the graphic pictures and showed no emotion.
Meanwhile, family members of Norman McCaster were full of nothing but emotion.
"I don't understand why she could do something like this to him because he was full of life, full of fun. And for something like this to happen to him is--I can't even describe. I don't understand. It's hard," Payne said.
Seven witnesses took the stand Wednesday, over roughly five hours of testimony. Evidence presented included Wal-Mart receipts and surveillance video of a black female prosecutors say is Denton-McCaster using a credit card to buy a respiratory mask and reciprocating saw four days before McCaster's body was found.
Another Wal-Mart receipt from the next day, which would have been the couple's second wedding anniversary, shows the same woman buying cleaning supplies, plastic bins and air fresheners - again with Denton-McCaster's credit card. Her attorney called that evidence "circumstantial."
"If you look at the evidence that was given, somebody like that should never be on the street. So it would bring closure to our family to see justice served," Payne said.
A pathologist has not yet testified about McCaster's cause of death, but the lead detective on case testified he recovered a gun that was loaned to Denton-McCaster.
Milhiser also told jurors detectives went through Denton-McCaster's trash and found items with the victim's blood. The defense maintains Denton-McCaster is not guilty.
Family members of Denton-McCaster were in the courtroom; her mother declined talking to us.
The defense and prosecution are also not talking to the media while the trial is ongoing.
Denton-McCaster's trial is expected to last into next week. If convicted on all counts, she faces 60-plus years behind bars.