Trial begins for man accused of stuffing woman’s body in suitcase

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A suitcase found outside a hotel sparked a police investigation.

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SAN DIEGO – Opening statements began Monday in the murder trial of a man who allegedly strangled a female acquaintance after watching her have sex with two other people, then stuffing her body into a suitcase and putting it out with the trash at a downtown hotel.

Joshua Matthew Palmer, 34, faces life in prison without parole if convicted of murder during a rape and murder during sodomy in the death of 21-year-old Shauna Haynes.

Witness Chelsea Shea testified during a preliminary hearing that she had drinks with Palmer at a bar on April 4, 2016, and agreed to go back to his room at the Chadwick Hotel on A Street. She and Palmer were having sex when Haynes arrived with a man named Anthony Kern, Shea testified.

The witness testified that she, Kern and Haynes eventually had sex together, but Palmer “just stood there,” then “told us to leave.”

Shea testified that she left with Kern and asked Haynes if she wanted to come along, but Haynes said she wanted to stay with Palmer.

A few hours after the early morning sexual encounter, Palmer called 911, saying his girlfriend was missing, a detective testified.

When contacted, Palmer had red knuckles on both his hands, according to the detective.

Police obtained a search warrant and seized video files from Palmer’s phone, showing an unconscious Haynes.

In another clip, Palmer is heard saying, “I’m sorry I love you, but I can’t watch you having sex with somebody else. God I’m sorry.”

Prosecutor Martin Doyle alleged that Palmer — who worked with Haynes at the Spaghetti Factory restaurant — stuffed her body into a suitcase and threw it out with the garbage.

The morning of April 6, 2016, a guest at the hotel found the suitcase containing the victim’s body near a row of trash cans in a parking area in the back of the three-story building.

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