The forensic pathologist who performed an autopsy on Juanita Montelongo a day after she was killed told jurors Friday that the 20-year-old woman had about 100 blows to her body, including four distinctive boot prints and a fresh bite mark.
Dr. Daniel Selove took the stand in a trial in which the jury is tasked with determining if DeLonde Pleasant's actions were excessive when he fatally beat his live-in girlfriend in March 2002.
Selove, of Everett, used 14 photographs taken at the time of the autopsy to give jurors a sampling of the severity of Montelongo's injuries, the majority of which were bruises.
"You have some idea looking at the photos that this is approximate because many overlap, and it's not as precise a number as would be possible if there were only a few, and they were scattered," he explained. "But I think conservatively I would count a dozen on the head, face and scalp, 20 on the torso and trunk -- the chest, abdomen and back, 30 on the arms and 40 on the legs."
"Could it be 87 (total)? Could it be 114? I'm just saying 100 is very approximate," he added.
Pleasant, 32, is back in Franklin County Superior Court for the unusual proceeding after the original sentence for his first-degree manslaughter plea was overturned by an appellate court. His guilty plea stands.
Deputy Prosecutor Frank Jenny said evidence will show that when Pleasant pummeled and kicked Montelongo, it involved "deliberate cruelty beyond what was necessary to accomplish the crime" and domestic violence within the sight and sound of the couple's young son.
If jurors return special verdicts for the aggravating factors, then Jenny can ask the court to return Pleasant to prison for up to 161/2 more years. He has been in custody for nine years.
But Pleasant is hoping the jury will decide his actions were not deliberate and recognize that he took responsibility for killing Montelongo. It was a combination of Pleasant's alcohol consumption that night and a psychiatric condition he suffered from that "resulted in a reactive and impulsive act," his lawyer, Karla Kane, told jurors.
Pleasant wants Judge Cameron Mitchell to find that he has served his time -- the standard range is 61/2 to 81/2 years -- and can be released.
"It was a tragedy, a tragedy that will live in the minds, memories and hearts of both families -- the Montelongos and the Pleasants -- for the rest of their lives," Kane said, noting the victim's injuries are not in dispute. "Now, you're in a difficult position because throughout this trial you must jump into the mind of Mr. Pleasant and you must determine why he did what he did, and if in fact it was done to inflict that pain in and of itself. That's a difficult task."
Montelongo and Pleasant had been together for at least three years and had a 2-year-old son. She also had an older son.
Early March 3, 2002, Pleasant returned to their Eighth Avenue home in a drunken rage and got into an argument with Montelongo. He later told Pasco police that everything "was cool at first," but then she started asking him questions such as where he had been all night, and he felt she was accusing him of being with another woman, Jenny told the jury.
At that point, Pleasant claimed he "just lost it" and lost control of himself, Jenny said of Pleasant's statement.
Pleasant proceeded to savagely beat Montelongo, then stopped once he saw she was unresponsive. He tried to resuscitate her and splashed water on her, then eventually sought help from his mother and aunt before they called 911. Montelongo was pronounced dead that morning at Kennewick General Hospital.
Angel Montelongo, the older sister of Juanita, briefly testified Friday about how the couple had lived together for most of their relationship. She identified her sister and two nephews from a picture that was taken about 11/2 years before Juanita's death.
Angel Montelongo fought back tears as she recalled the phone call that morning from her mother informing her that her sister had been killed. She said she happened to be visiting the Tri-Cities that weekend and was staying in a hotel when she got the news.
Officer Jon Baker told jurors that he was the second Pasco officer to arrive that morning and helped arrest Pleasant.
Juanita Montelongo was on the floor covered in a blanket and being cradled by Ianthia Pleasant, the suspect's mother. As Baker tried to find a pulse from Montelongo, he noticed her eyes were swollen shut, she had "a fat lip" and "multiple bruises, what appeared to be old and what appeared to be fresh."
Baker, who now works for the Richland Police Department, was joined by Pasco officers Scott Warren, Kevin Erickson and Marcos Guzman and Sgt. Brent Cook in describing the condition of the house that morning. Police found sofas, an ottoman and a coffee table had been pushed back, a lamp, stereo speaker and metal bunk bed knocked over, clumps of hair in the bathroom tub and on the floor, and numerous blood smears and puddles throughout the house.
Montelongo's sisters, family and friends cried as Selove gave specifics of Montelongo's injuries and the autopsy process.
His pictures were shown to Kane for her approval before Jenny passed them around the jury box. Pleasant never glanced at the photographs.
In addition to the full bite mark on the back of Montelongo's thigh and the striped sole patterns on the top of her head, neck and chest, she was missing a front tooth and had injuries inside her mouth from being punched. She was hit all over her body, said Selove, who as an example showed a picture of her right foot with "14 or so distinctive bruises and scrapes" just between the toes and the top of the ankle.
He ruled that Montelongo died from "multiple brain contusions due to blunt impacts to the head." Her other numerous injuries "weren't necessary to cause death, and they aren't listed as part of the cause of death," Selove said.
Friday's proceedings started with each juror being called in for individual questioning after reports that Pleasant's mother had approached some of them outside the courtroom Thursday and tried talking to them.
Only one woman said she saw Ianthia Pleasant walk up to a lady about 50 or 100 feet ahead of her and identify herself as his mother. She said she wasn't sure if the lady was a juror or not, but she stopped and waited for them to move on before she left the courthouse complex.
Because there was no clear evidence of wrongdoing that could affect the jury's impartiality, Mitchell just cautioned everyone in the audience to have no contact with jurors on the case until the trial is over.
The trial is expected to go into the middle of next week.