Trial begins for homeless man accused of 2013 Glen Ellyn slaying
Myron Ester greeted his girlfriend, Linda Valez, with flowers at the end of her work shift.
But she never got to put them in a vase. Prosecutors allege he stabbed her to death just hours later.
Ester, 45, is standing trial in DuPage County on five counts of first-degree murder and one count of concealment of a homicidal death.
Assistant State's Attorney Amanda Meindl said in her opening arguments Wednesday that Ester stabbed 33-year-old Linda Valez more than 30 times and left her body in a shallow grave in Glen Ellyn's Panfish Park on the night of Sept. 24, 2013.
Meindl said Valez, a mother of seven, was stabbed in the face, neck and torso. An autopsy found 34 wounds, including defensive marks on her arms.
Valez's mother, Gloria Araujo, testified that she called police after her daughter missed a Sept. 25 appointment to look at an apartment with a friend.
She knew Valez to be homeless and said she had custody of her daughter's children at the time.
Araujo said she called and or texted Ester, whom she believed Valez had been dating for six months, several times looking for her daughter.
During one call, Araujo testified, Ester was more agitated than normal, told her to stop asking about Valez and said that she had left with another man.
"He said he wanted to forget about her, just like she had forgot about him," Araujo said Wednesday.
Meindl said surveillance footage showed Ester and Valez leaving the McDonald's restaurant on Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn together after her shift on Sept. 24.
About 2 a.m. the next day, she said, Ester sought medical treatment at a fire station for a cut on his hand.
Meindl said Ester then rode his bike from Glen Ellyn to a friend's Naperville home and confessed to killing Valez.
Investigators arrested Ester the next day. He told police he and Valez were drinking alcohol at Panfish Park when they began arguing about their relationship and she came at him with a knife, authorities said.
Ester claimed he grabbed the knife and threw it to the ground, then "blacked out," authorities said.
Glen Ellyn police Sgt. Emmanuel Berger testified Wednesday that he found the shallow grave where Valez was buried after noticing a "drag pattern" and foot traffic in an area of the park known to be frequented by the homeless.
Berger said he followed a trail of bent grass into the woods until it ended at a "large circular area topped with freshly overturned dirt." At that point, he said, he called his supervisors. Her body was soon removed from the 18-inch-deep hole.
The trial is expected to continue at 10 a.m. today with testimony from the forensic pathologist who examined Valez.
Ester's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Wayne Brucar, chose to save his opening argument for a later date.