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Trial begins in teen love triangle that turned deadly

LARGO — A jury was selected Tuesday night in the murder trial of Rachel Wade.

Wade was 19 when she was accused of stabbing 18-year-old Sarah Ludemann to death in an April 2009 confrontation over a man they were both romantically involved with. Now 20, Wade can get life in prison if convicted of second-degree murder.

Defense attorney Jay Hebert told the court his client will likely claim self-defense, and may even testify on her own behalf. If she does take the stand, Hebert said, she will tell the court she feared both Ludemann and the man they were at odds over, Josh Camacho.

Hebert said two weeks ago the defense received photos taken by the victim's cell phone showing Camacho holding a handgun.

"In my client's state of mind, she was in mortal fear of Sarah, she was afraid of Josh, and the gun," the attorney said. "I intend to explore this issue if Ms. Wade testifies about her state of mind." That would be why Wade was armed with a steak knife the night the victim died, Hebert said.

Wade is accused of stabbing Ludemann in the heart during one of their many confrontations over Camacho. Ludemann was unarmed at the time, authorities say. The Pinellas Park High School senior collapsed and died on a residential street half a mile from home.

Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Joseph A. Bulone also had to rule on whether Wade would be allowed to wear makeup during her trial. Wade has been in the county jail since her arrest and is subject to courthouse security restrictions.

After conferring with bailiffs, she was allowed that right, if the makeup is brand-new and opened in front of the bailiffs. But she'll be given no mirror to use, and just a few minutes to put it on before court and wipe it off before returning to jail.

The Pinellas County Sheriff's Office also wanted Wade to waive her right to sue the agency if she suffers an allergic reaction to the makeup. Wade waived that right.

The only other issue was who holds on to the makeup at the end of each day. The judge said he'd take care of it.

The issue of pretrial publicity also was addressed. The parking lot of the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center was filled with satellite dishes from local television stations. Portions of the trial will also be broadcast by truTV, formerly known as Court TV.

The judge also gave Wade one more chance to ask for a change of venue because of pretrial publicity, a request that would have to be decided in a separate hearing.

"You want to have your trial here?" Bulone asked her. "You want to have your trial in Pinellas County?"

"Yes, sir," Wade said.

Trial begins in teen love triangle that turned deadly 07/20/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:00pm]
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