Daughter: Mom returned home after murder hot, sweaty

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Friday, September 18, 2015
Daughter: Mom returned home after murder hot, sweaty
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Joanna Madonna's daughter Rachel Lopez

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- It was an emotional morning Friday in a Raleigh courtroom where a former Wake County teacher is on trial charged with murdering her husband.

Joanna Madonna's eldest daughter returned to the stand as a prosecution witness.

She held up pretty well for most of her time on the stand until Madonna's attorney asked her to describe her mother.

"She has a really big heart, caring, and she loves people, and she would do anything for her family." Rachel Lopez said.

Forty-eight-year old Madonna has shown little emotion during the trial until her daughter was called to the stand.

During questioning from the prosecutor, Rachel Lopez described the night that her step-father, Jose Perez, was murdered.

Perez's body was found in a ditch near Falls Lake in northern Wake County. The 64-year-old who was said to be in very poor health had been stabbed to death.

Rachel Lopez said her mother and Perez left their house in Raleigh's Wakefield community on the evening of June 15, 2013. Her daughter told jurors her mother returned home alone around 9 p.m. hot and sweaty.

Madonna claims to have killed her husband in self-defense after he attacked her when she asked for a divorce.

"She was saying, 'It's okay, it's okay,'" Lopez said. "I asked what happened to her arm she said that she confronted Jose about leaving and he cut her. I screamed 'He cut you?' She told me to shush because my grandfather was in the next room and she didn't want to upset him."

Madonna's daughter said she urged her mother to call police but she refused.

Madonna's former therapist John Chadwick also testified Friday. He told jurors that shortly before the murder he and Madonna had begun what he knew to be an inappropriate relationship.

"I'm not sure I would call it a romantic involvement, but I'm not sure who initiated it. It just became friendly and did some flirting back and forth," he said.

Under questioning from Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman, Chadwick admitted that he and Madonna kissed once.

Chadwick also said he knew that Madonna wanted to break up with her husband. Perez dies on a Saturday and her daughter said she went to church the next day. Chadwick said she came over to his house afterwards.

"She showed me her arms, said that he had cut her with a knife and she showed me her arms, the inside of her arms" he testified.

"And tell us what you observed in looking at her arms," said Freeman.

"They were scratched," he responded.

"And, you know, when you say scratched was it, did it appear to you to be knife cut?" Freeman asked.

"No," said Richardson.

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