WAUSAU (WAOW) -- Raul Ponce-Rocha takes the stand in his own defense. The 23 year old defendant was the first witness to take the stand for defense Tuesday morning.
Ponce-Rocha is accused of the brutal murder of 18 year old Breanna Schneller back in May of 2009.
Ponce-Rocha was on the witness stand for 3 1/2 hours Tuesday telling a story few have ever heard. He explained to the jury how he did, in fact, see Breanna Schneller the morning of her murder. And he admits he was inside her apartment.
He said he left El Tequila Salsa around 10:20am that morning to pick up his friend for work. That friend lived in the same apartment complex as Breanna. Ponce-Rocha explained that before he got to the building, he saw a former co-worker, Sergio, and stopped to say hello.
Ponce-Rocha's said they talked, then went inside Breanna Schneller's apartment. He said Sergio and Breanna talked while he waited in the living room, then when he went to leave, Breanna grabbed his arm. He said he left, Sergio and Breanna stayed behind.
"She was alive when I left," Ponce-Rocha testified.
Next he said he went to pick up his friend then headed to work. That's why he said the trip took longer than expected. Days later, when questioned by police, he said he lied because he was afraid.
"I was scared something would happen to my family if I told the police what I knew," Ponce-Rocha explained.
Police found Breanna's cell phone, underwear, and 2 gloves in a plastic bag in a dumpster behind El Tequila Salsa the night of the murder. Ponce-Rocha said one of the gloves found is his, but he doesn't know how it got there. He said he lost it months before then.
On cross examination, prosecutors tried to blow holes in Ponce-Rocha's story. The District Attorney asked about the 4 pairs of women's underwear found under Ponce-Rocha's bed, and the fact that 2 pairs of Breanna's underwear were in the plastic bag with her cell phone and gloves.
"I didn't take her underwear," Ponce-Rocha said.
"So it was just a coincidence?" asked DA Ken Heimerman. "just a coincidence underwear was found in bag and under you bed. Just one big coincidence."
"Yes," Ponce-Rocha replied.
There was no other talk of Sergio, his current whereabouts, or if he will be testifying in this case.
The defense is expected to call 4 witnesses on Wednesday.