DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Lancaster woman that prosecutors say was beaten, stabbed, sexually assaulted and mutilated by her boyfriend, told jurors today that the accused, Jose Arreola, was a “good friend” when they first met in 2008.
But, a year later, Maria Escamilla says the relationship became abusive. “He pushed me to the ground and then dragged me by the hair,” Escamilla told jurors as she recounted one incident. “He was hitting me on parts of my body. He then grabbed [a] curling iron and started hitting me with it.”
Escamilla became emotional as she recalled violent encounters with Arreola, now charged with Aggravated Assault with a Deadly Weapon in a March 2011 attack that prosecutors say left Escamilla near death. Her injuries so severe that prosecutors have called it torture– saying they have never seen a victim endure such violence and survive.
Meanwhile jurors appeared to steel themselves to view the graphic images of her injuries. Photographs from the hospital showed Escamilla with both eyes various shades of black and purple– and swollen shut. She had stab wounds and lacerations over her entire body. Her hand was cut so deeply that one finger was nearly severed, and her lip was almost separated from her face.
Dr. Henry Jefferson, Chair of Surgery at Methodist Dallas Medical Center, told jurors that Escamilla had lost so much blood that she was in shock when a team of surgeons began to work frantically to save her life.
According to Dr. Jefferson, Escamilla had lost nearly 40 percent of her blood supply– and needed multiple transfusions. Escamilla suffered broken ribs, a collapsed lung, and had been mutilated in the genital area so severely that Dr. Jefferson described the injuries as “extreme.”
“It’s sad. It’s sad I don’t see how anybody can put anyone through that,” Escamilla’s friend Frank Ortiz said Wednesday.
In the months following the attack Escamilla told CBS 11 in an interview, “I don’t know by what miracle I didn’t die. I had given up, I wanted to die, I didn’t want to feel any more pain.”
CBSDFW typically does not identify sexual assault victims; but, Escamilla granted permission to use her name. She has also publicly urged other victims of domestic violence to call police and press charges, no matter “how small the abuse.”
Ironically, Arreola was on out bond on a previous domestic violence charge at the time of the March 2011 attack.
The judge hearing the case, Dallas County Judge Fred Tinsley, has been sharply criticized in some circles for twice reducing Arreola’s bond. Judge Tinsley has issued a gag order in the case which prevents prosecutors, defense attorney, and potential witnesses from speaking to the media until the case concludes.
In pre-trial discussions, Arreola’s attorney, Michael J. Todd said that he planned to argue that the attack was self-defense.
Arreola right now remains free on bond. Testimony resumes Thursday morning.
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