Magisrate Caroline Farrugia Frendo has started hearing the compilation of evidence in the case of Michael Emmanuel, 28, from the Ivory Coast, charged with the murder of his partner Maria Lourdes Agius. Maria Lourdes Agius, 35 was found murdered in her bedroom in Paola by her mother on 15 September.
Mother thought daughter had overslept
Inspector James Grech testified that on that day at around 7am, Michael Emanuel entered the police station in Paola where he told police that he went to wake up Maria Lourdes, but she was not moving. He said that the police went to the house and found the mother Maria who said that her daughter had overslept, but she thought this was because two days before she had been beaten up by the accused in a case of domestic violence.
Inspector Grech added that the Police had found Maria Lourdes Agius laying on her bed, facing the wall. At first she appeared to be sleeping, however the Sergeant who was on the scene knew about the domestic violence report which had been filed and suspected that she was dead. It was at that point that a commotion broke out between the victim’s mother and the accused and the police had to take the accused on the roof to separate them.
Accused says that the couple had intercourse on the night she was killed
Michael Emanuel told the police that on the night she was killed he had intercourse with the victim, and they fell asleep at around 10pm. When he woke up, he tried to wake her up but Maria Lourdes Agius did not wake up.
Inspector Grech said that they spent two years living together in Qawra and two years ago they went to live with the victim’s mother in Paola. He said that forensic expert Dr Mario Scerri immediately saw the bruises on her neck and suspected that she had been strangled. An autopsy was held on the same day and it was confirmed that she had been suffocated to death. It also emerged that she had received two blows to the head, and also had bruises all over her body, especially around her neck. She also had a wound in her mouth which occurred while she was being choked.
They had argued two days before the murder
The Inspector said that two days before, on 13 September, the mother of the victim had told police that Michael Emanuel and Maria Lourdes Agius had argued, with the accused becoming violent and hitting both the victim and her mother. She said that he began kicking her and hitting her with a chair on her back. The two women were taken to Mater Dei where they were certified by a doctor that they had slight scratches.
Speaking about the case, Inspector Grech said that the victim and her brother threw the accused out of the house and he ended up sleeping out in the streets. He said that on that day the Police tried to phone Aġenzija Appoġġ to find him somewhere to live, but no one at the agency had answered the phone.
Victim’s mother heard disturbance
The victim’s mother told the police that on 15 September at 2am, she had heard a disturbance but did not hear any other argument that night, although she could hear the accused going up and down the stairs of the roof. At 7am, when she saw him coming down from the roof she asked him about her daughter, and he said that Maria Lourdes Agius was not at home and did not know where she had gone. The mother went to the bedroom and found her daughter there.
After he was arrested, during the interrogation at the Police HQ, Michael Emanuel said he had been born in Ghana, but in fact it turned out that he was from the Ivory Coast. He said that he came to Malta illegally on a boat in 2011, and after two years he had met the victim in St Julian’s He said that he had asked her to have sex with him and paid her €60. They then carried on with their relationship for the next three months. Shortly afterwards she noted that she had missed her period and she told him she was pregnant, but he suspected that the baby was not his and a DNA test was carried out. The test proved him right and the child was not his. However, he said that he was happy to raise the child anyway, as if she were his own.
A psychiatrist also testified, however the testimony was heard behind closed doors because of the sensitivity of the case.
Maria Lourdes Agius was the mother of seven children, including three from the accused. Michael Emmanuel is pleading not guilty to the charges brought against him.
The prosecution is being led by Inspector James Grech and Inspector Sarah Zerafa while Dr Lucio Schria is appearing for the accused.
The case has been deferred to 22 November.