- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

BANGOR, Maine (AP) - The trial of an Ellsworth, Maine, man charged with killing his wife on Christmas Day 2013 began on Monday with their children being called to testify about abuse their mother suffered in the month before her death.

The 9-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl both testified that Christopher Saenz got physical with 29-year-old Hilary Saenz at their home in Ellsworth. The boy told the judge that his mother had black eyes on the day she died.

A judge was hearing testimony without a jury at the request of the defendant.

Prosecutors said Christopher Saenz fatally beat his wife because he thought she was having an affair. The defense contends her brain injuries from a car accident 10 years earlier played a role in her death.

An autopsy concluded that Hilary Saenz died from brain bleeding, but had multiple injuries including a lacerated liver, bruised lungs and a fractured sternum. All told, she had 50 cuts and bruises, the prosecutor said.

The kids testified that they were told to leave and go to a neighbor’s home on the day their mom died. They said their father told them their mother had “passed out” and that they later learned she’d died.

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