January 21, 2011
Posted: 10:42 AM ET
Cleveland, OH- Prosecutors in the case against Dr. Yazeed Essa say the defendant killed his wife so that he could be with his lover, Michelle Madeline Stephens.
Madeline was a nurse at Akron General Hospital where Dr. Essa worked as an Emergency Room physician. They knew one another and had worked together for several years, but it wasn’t until October 2004 that their flirtation became a full blown affair, that included a weekend getaway to New York City and a standing Wednesday night date.
Madeline said she was torn about being involved with a married man. She said she knew it was wrong, but that she had fallen in love and believed Essa felt the same way about her. She thought Essa was in a loveless marriage. He told her his wife was cold, evidenced by his nickname for Rosie, “Amana, like the refrigerator,” Madeline testified.
Over their courtship, Essa sent Madeline dozens of roses and love notes, including one he signed, “I will forever love only you….”
But there was one note that was particularly significant to investigators. The note, along with a sexy camisole set, arrived at Madeline’s home on February 7, 2005, just weeks before Rosemarie’s death.
Essa’s note read: “Happy Valentine’s Day Habeebtu! I can’t wait to see you in this (I have my own selfish reasons for getting you this gift!) Next Valentine’s Day will all be ours…I love you all my being…Yaz.”
Essa cheated on his wife with other women too, but prosecutors say Madeline was special to Essa.
He called her the day that his wife died.
“He called my cell phone and was incomprehensibly yelling, screaming and I couldn’t understand him,” Madeline said. “He called me back and was screaming ‘Rosie’s dead.’”
Madeline couldn’t believe it. Over the next few days she described Essa as “needy.” She said he wanted her to be with him constantly. The brunette kept a journal in the days following Rosie’s death. Asked to recall some of the notes she had taken, she told jurors Essa’s plan was to initially introduce her as the children’s babysitter, and after a few months, they would publicly disclose they were dating.
“He told me that I would be the only mother the children will know.” She said Essa also told her, “Rosie’s family will come to love you like a daughter.”
Madeline’s testimony was punishing for Rosemarie’s parents, Rocco and Gee Gee DiPuccio. The suggestion that Rosemarie could be replaced was particularly painful.
Equally painful was the fact that the affair may not have been such a secret to Rosemarie. The night before she died, phone records suggest she repeatedly called Yazeed’s cell phone looking for him and that they may have argued around 2:00 a.m. About 12 hours later, Rosemarie was dead.
Keep watching In Session for gavel to gavel coverage of OH v. Yazeed Essa!
-Grace Wong, In Session Senior Field Producer
Filed under: Trials
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