JANESVILLE — Julian D. Collazo was found guilty of murdering Christine Scaccia-Lubeck in 2017, a jury decided after about 90 minutes of deliberation Wednesday.
No reaction by Collazo could be detected as Judge Barbara McCrory read the verdict, but Scaccia-Lubeck’s mother, Diane Somers, sobbed.
The family has waited 2½ years to hear a guilty verdict, including waiting through a previous trial in which the jury could not reach a verdict.
Co-prosecutor Jerry Urbik said afterward that the wait took an emotional toll on the family.
Collazo, 24, must be sentenced to life in the prison system, but that could include supervised release. Urbik said the state will ask that Collazo not be given extended supervision because of the brutal nature of the crime.
Urbik said a judge has wide discretion in deciding the question of supervised release. The law requires Collazo to serve at least 20 years behind bars.
Scaccia-Lubeck was stabbed 33 times in her home on Janesville’s near-west side Dec. 8, 2017.
The prosecution presented evidence of the victim’s blood on Collazo’s shoes and clothing and his admission of guilt to a fellow jail inmate.
Collazo fled Janesville in Scaccia-Lubeck’s SUV the night of the murder with Nicole R. Kazar, a woman he apparently met a few days before Scaccia-Lubeck’s death.
Collazo and Kazar were homeless and helped each other. On the night of the murder, they had been smoking crack cocaine and drinking, Kazar testified Tuesday.
The defense presented a different story, saying Kazar, not Collazo, committed the stabbing in a jealous rage.
Kazar testified she didn’t know Scaccia-Lubeck and had never been to her house.
Urbik said Kazar served the maximum sentence for driving Scaccia-Lubeck’s SUV after the murder, which was 18 months behind bars and two years of extended supervision.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Jensen said Kazar had the clearer motive.
District Attorney David O’Leary said Facebook messages between Collazo and Kazar showed they were not together at the time of the murder.
At 6:56 p.m. Dec. 8, Collazo messaged Kazar: “I did this all for you, not me.”
Kazar asked what he did. He replied: “I got her for everything.” His next message just said, “Car.”
Somers found her daughter dead the next day. Police testified there was blood in the bathroom, in a hallway and in the bedroom where Scaccia-Lubeck’s body was found.
Collazo had told another inmate that he stabbed her in the bathroom, and she went to get a gun that was on a counter in the bedroom, O’Leary said.
Next to the body was a bloody footprint that police matched to Collazo’s Jordan-brand sneakers. Blood on the sneakers and Collazo’s pants also matched Scaccia-Lubeck.
No blood was found on Kazar’s clothing.
Jensen said Kazar’s motive was jealousy and her special knowledge made her a good suspect: “She knows how to use prostitution to wheedle her way into somebody’s home, into a compromising situation.”
Jensen dismissed Kazar’s testimony that Collazo told her he did it, saying she was trained by her life of prostitution to deceive.
But the prosecution’s evidence convinced the jury of nine men and three women.
O’Leary described Scaccia-Lubeck’s wounds, including 23 to the torso and six defensive wounds on her arm. He described a pathologist’s description of “three kill shots to the heart with that knife that ended Christine’s life.”
“You saw the wounds to her arms. You saw the rears to her clothing. … Christine was fighting back (against) whoever was killing her,” O’Leary told the jury.
O’Leary described Collazo’s DNA being found under Scaccia-Lubeck’s fingernails: “Christine is telling you who killed her. She’s defending her life, and the DNA on her arms and her hands are Collazo’s.”