The cell phone of a San Diego man accused of killing his co-worker and stuffing her body into a suitcase contained disturbing videos of him allegedly sexually assaulting the victim and other unconscious women, a detective testified.
Joshua Palmer, 32, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the spring slaying of Shauna Haynes, 21. Haynes’ lifeless body was discovered inside a suitcase on April 6. The luggage had been left near trash bins outside The Chadwick, a residential hotel on A Street in downtown San Diego, where Palmer lived.
This included testimony from San Diego Police Department Det. David Spitzer, who said graphic videos were discovered on Palmer’s phone during the investigation, leading officials to believe he may have preyed on other women prior to the grisly killing of Haynes.
“Based on the things we saw in the video we suspected there could be further victims that could have occurred prior to this date,” Spitzer said on the stand. “There was the recovery of additional videos where someone filmed unconscious females and was touching them in an inappropriate sexual manner.”
NBC 7 spoke with an SDPD Homicide lieutenant and the San Diego County District Attorney’s (DA) office about these findings.
The lieutenant said none of the women in those videos discovered on Palmer’s phone have been identified and, at this point, it is unknown if there are other victims out there.
Spitzer also testified Wednesday that a video was discovered on the suspect’s phone that allegedly showed Palmer sexually assaulting Haynes after her death.
The DA’s office confirmed that Palmer’s murder charge also includes three special circumstances: murder in the course of rape, sodomy and penetration by foreign instrument.
Spitzer said other evidence found on Palmer’s phone by investigators included text messages to Haynes that showed Palmer developed a deep romantic interest in Haynes, but his feelings toward her were rebuffed.
Spitzer said one message from Palmer to Haynes read: “I’ve never wanted anything more in my life than the way I want you. You don’t want me, I get it. It hurts because I’m so much better than the people in your life. It’s total rejection.”
Another text message on Palmer’s phone showed he became jealous after Haynes allegedly had a sexual encounter with someone else.
Spitzer also read that message on the stand: “I’m sorry, I love you. I accepted my place as a friend but I can’t watch you make love to someone else. I know it’s selfish but I can’t take it. I’m not good enough but two total strangers are. It just destroyed me.”
Palmer was arrested in connection with Haynes’ killing two days after her body in the suitcase was discovered by other residents of The Chadwick.
Palmer and Haynes worked together at the Old Spaghetti Factory restaurant in downtown San Diego and were platonic friends. According to prosecutors, Palmer and Haynes went out one night in early April and the pair wound up at Palmer’s apartment.
There, prosecutors said Palmer beat and strangled her, then stuffed her body into a suitcase. He allegedly wiped down his apartment to conceal the crime and sent text messages from the victim’s cell phone to family members to make it appear as if she was still alive.
If convicted, Palmer faces a maximum sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole. Due to the special circumstances added to the first-degree murder charge, Palmer could face the death penalty.
Palmer's preliminary hearing resumed Thursday morning with more graphic testimony from witnesses in the case, including one of the last people to see Haynes alive, Chelsea Shea.
Shea testified that she had engaged in a sexual encounter with Palmer and Haynes one night in April. While Shea and Palmer had sex, Haynes entered Palmer's room with another man. At that point, Palmer abruptly told Shea, Haynes and the other man to leave, Shea said.
Palmer's attorney, Katie Belisle, said Shea and the other man asked Haynes if she wanted to leave with them that night, but Belisle said Haynes chose not to leave, saying she wanted to stay with Palmer.
"When he asked them all to leave, Ms. Haynes wanted to stay there," Belisle said.
The suspect's defense attorney said Thursday that there is not enough evidence to prove the special circumstances of rape, sodomy and penetration by foreign instrument added to Palmer's first-degree murder charge were not consensual acts.
However, by 10:15 a.m., a judge decided there was enough evidence for Palmer to stand trial for Haynes' murder.
Palmer will remain in jail without bail until further legal proceedings. His next appearance in court is slated for Sept. 22.