Opening statements begin in murder trial of Brian MacDonald

After a long period of jury selection, opening statements and testimony started Wednesday in the case of Brian MacDonald and Bianca Hollenbeck. MacDonald is charged with second-degree murder and Hollenbeck with assault and battery after the stabbing death of 21-year-old Anthony Spaulding.

On Jan. 31, 2013, around 2 a.m., the defendants allegedly went to a New Years Eve party at Spaulding’s house on 48 Pratt Street, prosecutors said. A fight between Spaulding and MacDonald erupted over noise and spilled champagne, sending the two tumbling down the stairs.

After the fight was broken up, Spaulding lay on the ground bleeding from stab wounds that hit his heart and liver. He was later pronounced dead from his injuries at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

Assistant District Attorneys Julie Higgins and Tara Burdman opened the case with the argument that the fight and attack was unprovoked and Spaulding was unarmed.

Higgins claims that Spaulding was attacked after trying to apologize to Hollenbeck and MacDonald after the stairs incident. Hollenbeck then put Spaulding in a headlock and MacDonald began to attack him.

The knife was never recovered.

Defense attorney Tom Hoopes argued that mankind has always defended himself, and that is what MacDonald did as well.

Hoopes painted a picture of MacDonald and Hollenbeck trying to leave after the confrontation on the stairs and that once outside, Spaulding and his friends ganged up on MacDonald. In response to being kicked, hit and having bottles thrown at him, MacDonald had no choice but to defend himself.

David Grimaldi, who is representing Hollenbeck, called the events “tragic.” He said Spaulding’s girlfriend at the time was the first one to act in an aggressive manner.

Testimony will continue over the next week.

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