ALLENTOWN, Pa. - The key difference between first and third degree murder is intent.
The defense team for Jonathan Nunez is hoping by the end of its client's murder trial that the jury can tell the two apart.
Friends said Nunez's alleged victim, Kimberly Cardona, was rarely seen without a smile and made friends with everyone she met, but Prosecutors said one friend cost her her life.
In court, an investigator testified Cardona, 20, was so badly beaten she couldn't be identified from her driver's license photo. Instead, a Batman tattoo behind her ear confirmed to police who she was.
Prosecutors said she and Nunez were together and had sex on Lanze Lane in Salisbury Twp., Lehigh Co., on July 4, 2012, however, the romantic tryst turned tragic.
After an argument, police said Nunez beat the Whitehall Township woman and left her in the woods, returning a short time later to slit her throat.
Nunez's legal team isn't arguing he killed her, but it doesn't call it a "slam dunk case," telling the jury Nunez, a father of two, has no history of abuse and was drunk and high when Cardona was killed, saying he snapped when Cardona allegedly spit in his face and slapped him.
After Cardona was killed, prosecutors said Nunez fled to the Dominican Republic, only returning because of pleas from his family.
The defense isn't arguing that either, but it is stressing to the jury this is a third degree murder case, not first degree.
Allentown, PA 18102