The prosecution called several witnesses to the stand during the second day of the trial today, including a man who recently befriended Lee while in the St. Joseph County Jail.
Because Lee was granted a bench trial this week, St. Joseph Superior Court Judge John Marnocha — not a jury — will determine if Lee is guilty of murdering his wife.
Aaron Russell, who has been in the jail since February on a charge of Class D theft, told Marnocha that Lee began confiding in him and told him what happened when he is alleged to have killed Winston on Aug. 16 at their Hickory Village apartment in Mishawaka.
Russell said Lee told him he was upset about Winston being unfaithful and her drug use. Lee waited outside a man’s house one night where he believed Winston to be, Russell said.
“When she came out, his heart dropped,” Russell said. “He said he was tired of her disrespecting him and everyone laughing at him. He got to the point he couldn’t take it anymore.”
“He said he choked her” after she got back to Hickory Village, Russell said.
Russell went on to say that Lee told him he took the body to Illinois so it wouldn’t be discovered or, if it was, it would just go in the books as a missing “Jane Doe.”
Lee’s attorney, Jeffrey Sanford, described Russell as someone “trying to cut a deal.”
“You’re just doing it because you’re a good citizen?” Russell asked, insinuating Russell was looking to get his sentence on the theft charge lessened. Russell said that had not been promised.
“You want them to drop the D felony?” Sanford added.
Meanwhile, Marnocha ruled today that past evidence and altercations regarding Lee and Winston would be inadmissible in court. That includes divorce papers and protection-order papers of Winston’s that police recovered from the apartment.
Marnocha did rule to allow testimony from two men regarding an August incident between the couple. Winston reportedly lived with the men in August.
Andre Banks, Winston’s godfather, testified that Winston would frequently come over with injuries because of Lee.
“Everytime she came to my house, she had black eyes, she had bruises,” he said.
James Johnson also testified Thursday that he was with Lee and two other men when Lee showed them Winston’s dead body.
Johnson said he drove with Lee and Lee’s brother to Chicago, and Johnson and Lee dumped the body behind a home on the south side.
Johnson gave specific details of lifting the body from the trunk, moving it 10 feet and burying it under items.
Johnson also acknowledged that some details he couldn’t remember because he had drank an “awful lot” that night, which includes well over a dozen beers, he said.
Tarrance Lee’s brother, Anthony Lee, reportedly retracted, according to the prosecution, some of the details he told police Aug. 18 when he took the stand today.