The trial of a Wayland man charged in the slaying of his ex-girlfriend a year and a half ago is on track to get started within the next coming weeks at Middlesex Superior Court.
Nathaniel Fujita, 20, is accused of killing 18-year-old Lauren Astley at his home, where she had met with him after leaving work, on July 3, 2011. Authorities say Fujita attempted to strangle her, but later stabbed her to death in the neck.
Fujita was also 18 at the time, both him and Astley having just graduated from Wayland High School. The two students dated during high school for three years, but had recently broken up. The young woman was planning to attend Elon University in North Carolina in the fall of 2011, hoping to become a fashion designer.
After the murder, Fujita is said to have stashed the body in a marsh off Water Row in Wayland, where a bicyclist discovered Astley's body the following morning.
Authorities soon traced Astley's path after she left work with a number of phone calls and text messages with Fujita. Blood had been discovered on the floor of Fujita's garage and kitchen. Nathaniel Fujita was arrested on July 5, 2011.
Jury selection for the trial started on Monday, February 11. A pool of about 92 potential jurors filled Judge Peter Lauriat's courtroom in Middlesex Superior Court for a long morning of interviews. Six individuals, three men and three women, had been seated by Monday afternoon on the eventual 16-member jury panel that will ultimately decide Fujita's fate.
Fujita has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery. If found guilty of first-degree murder, he could be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. His attorney, William Sullivan, has previously hinted that insanity mary be used as a possible defense.
Wayland's school system has been preparing to help students and faculty to cope with the expected publicity and questions that may arise during the trial. School Superintendent Paul Stein stated as the trial unfolds, it will undoubtedly rekindle memories of the students and the tragedy, unleashing a variety of emotions.
"For some, this will be like reliving a trauma, especially those who have had a strong connection to these former students and their families," Stein said.
The trial is expected to last for about two weeks according to the Middlesex district attorney office.