FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (WSVN) - The ex-wife of a man accused of killing that woman’s best friend took the stand, Tuesday.
Sitting in a courtroom at the Broward County Courthouse, Debra Villegas spoke about how she kept calling and texting Melissa Lewis on the day of the murder, to no avail.
Villegas worked with Lewis, an attorney, at convicted Ponzi schemer Scott Rothstein’s law firm.
Villegas’ ex-husband, 52-year-old Tony Villegas, is accused of murdering Lewis at her Plantation home in 2008. Police said Villegas was jealous of Lewis and blamed her for the breakup of his marriage.
Lewis was found dead in a Plantation canal near her home. Her SUV was found abandoned several blocks away.
7News cameras captured Lewis’ niece breaking down in tears during the testimony. Tony Villegas was also seen wiping away tears with a handkerchief.
When asked what Lewis was wearing on the last day she saw her alive, Debra Villegas replied, “She was wearing a brown suit with pink pinstripes.”
Prosecutors showed a picture of that suit and a shoe in the back seat of Lewis’ SUV. Prosecutors said Tony Villegas’ DNA was on that jacket.
Debra Villegas also testified that her husband threatened both her and her best friend. “The conversation started, he called about a Discover bill that he was angry about,” Villegas said. “I told him that I had not used the Discover card, and he told me that he was gonna take it out of my skin, and I would be sorry.”
Villegas said she then paid the bill and called her husband back. I got off the phone with him. “I told him that I had paid the bill, that he should still follow up on it because I hadn’t used the card and that it could’ve been fraud. At that point he started telling me, ‘You’re doing great now. You think you’re on top now, but you and your friends will be sorry. I’m gonna win in the end.’ Something of that nature. I told him, ‘Stop it with your threats.'”
Villegas said Lewis had pepper spray, and, according to investigators, pepper spray was found all over Lewis’ garage.
Carrie Fisher, Lewis’ sister, corroborated this finding. She told prosecutors she responded to the Plantation home when her sister went missing. “I opened the garage door down. There was orange,” she said.
Prosecutors also showed a picture of orange pepper spray on the floor inside Lewis’ home. “There were some broken tiles,” said Fisher.
Defense attorneys fired back, questioning how officials handled the crime scene. When asked whether he wore latex gloves or coverings on his shoes when he walked into the garage, Plantation Police Officer Christopher Stilwell replied, “No.”
Villegas has been charged with premeditated first-degree murder. If convicted, he faces a life sentence.
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