Despite tears and long emotional pauses, admitted Fairfield killer Jonathon Edington maintained Friday that, despite evidence to the contrary, Barry James must have done something to his young daughter.
"I still believe my daughter was afraid of him and he must have done something. But I can't believe he was a bad person overall, certainly nothing he could have done justified what I did to him," he told a jury hearing a civil case against him in Bridgeport Superior Court.
It will now be up to a jury of three men and three women to decide whether to find the former Fairfield lawyer responsible for killing his 59-year-old neighbor and whether to award James' family monetary damages in their civil suit.
Edington, who turned 34 on Friday, had earlier pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for fatally stabbing James four years ago and is serving a 12-year prison term.
He was accused of leaping through the window of the first-floor bedroom of the James' Colony Street home and stabbing the disabled man more than a dozen times on Aug. 28, 2006, after Edington's wife told him their 2-year-old daughter complained that James had molested her.
Fairfield police later conducted an investigation and found no evidence that James, who had trouble walking without assistance, could have snuck into the next-door Edington home and molested the girl.
Taking the witness stand Friday, Edington, who represents himself in the civil trial, launched into a lengthy narrative of his life beginning when he was in law school in New Jersey.
He cried numerous times as he described the life that he and his wife had together, their dreams and hopes for their future. He cried again when he spoke of meeting rry James' elderly parents, Rita and Charles, who had lived in the home they shared with their son since the Pearl Harbor Day on Dec. 7, 1941.
But most of Edington's emotion was reserved for his retelling of the events that led up to his fatal attack on James.
He said that during a phone call from their Rhode Island vacation spot his wife told him their daughter claimed to have been molested by "Barry." "She was talking about Barry and the only Barry I knew was my neighbor Barry James," Edington testified. "I was trying to understand what had happened that would cause our daughter to be so afraid of our neighbor. I couldn't make sense of it, my mind started racing with all these awful scenarios of what I thought could have happened, the awful things I thought my neighbor could have done."
Edington then contends he jumped through the victim's window with a 7-inch knife in his hand just to ask James what had happened.
"I wanted him to tell me what was going on. I was hoping he could tell me something that could stop these awful thoughts," he told the jury.