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Defense attorney in Federico murder trial: ‘Physical evidence doesn’t lie, people do’

Posted at 2:39 PM, Jul 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-29 14:39:22-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Joshua Federico appeared in Chesterfield Circuit Court on Monday for the beginning of a five-day murder trial.

In August 2018, Federico was arrested and charged with shooting his estranged wife, Sarah Federico, and killing her boyfriend, Lawrence Howell. Chesterfield police say they found Howell's remains in a burn pit on a horse farm on Second Branch Road.

Federico's wife survived the shooting, and prosecutors said she identified her estranged husband as the trigger man.

A jury of 14 people was selected Monday morning to hear the Commonwealth vs Federico case. The judge presiding, Honorable Judge Lynn Brice said the 14 jurors were chosen as a precaution for emergency matters.

Both the Commonwealth and the defense gave opening statements. The Commonwealth laid out their case on what happened on the night of August 23, 2018, by showing photo evidence of the scene and stating Sarah Federico ran for her life.

Prosecutors claim Joshua Federico planned a murder plot scheme to kill both his estranged wife and her boyfriend, saying he told his estranged wife he was going to make it look like they killed each other.

However, the defense told the jury of what evidence the Commonwealth did not have, telling them what they won’t hear over the course of the trail.

"Evidence doesn't lie, people do," said the defense.

Both the defense and the Commonwealth agreed to have the trial last all week. A number of witnesses will be testifying on both sides in the case.

Joseph Federico, Joshua’s brother, and Wendy Federico, Joshua’s mother, were charged in December 2018 with conspiring to plot and carry out the murder for hire scheme at the direction of Joshua, prosecutors said.  Because his estranged wife identified him and a civil lawsuit filed by her family, prosecutors said Joshua Federico was “looking to wipe out” his wife, her father, and her brother.

Court documents: Suspect filed for divorce

Court records show Federico filed for divorce June 12, 2018, claiming his wife of six years committed adultery on several occasions. The couple was married on August 31, 2012.

In a cross-complaint, she neither admitted nor denied the allegations but called for “strict proof" and moved out of their home in April 13, 2018.

“The plaintiff [Joshua Federico] has been guilty of extreme cruelty to the defendant, has caused her to have a car accident, has belittled her, has tried to ruin her financially, has stolen her money and her cell phone and wanted her to leave him,” court documents stated.

The victim’s attorney said she feared for her client’s safety and that her client was "extremely scared" of the suspect.

In fact, CBS 6 uncovered that the victim filed a protective order against Federico in April 2018 when she moved.