On the night of April 16, 2015, prosecutors say, David Black broke into his estranged wife’s Arlington home, crept upstairs to her bedroom and stabbed her in the heart and throat as their two young children slept nearby.
But Black’s lawyers say the government has it wrong. Black was not in his wife’s house that spring night, his attorneys say, arguing that police did not cast a wide enough net in their search for Bonnie Delgado Black’s killer.
“David Black was a natural suspect from the beginning,” defense attorney Ryan Campbell told jurors during closing arguments Monday. “The police saw only what they wanted to see and looked only where they wanted to look.”
After a two-week trial in Arlington Circuit Court, a jury Tuesday is set to begin deliberations on charges of first-degree murder and burglary while armed against David Black, 45. Prosecutors say the brutal murder was the culmination of a bitter divorce battle.
“No one hated her as much as he did,” Arlington Chief Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney Andrew Parker said in court. “Nobody stood to gain as much financially as him.”
Bonnie Black’s body was found the morning of April 17, 2015, after her then-5-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son were spotted wandering outside. Bonnie Black, 42, was a psychologist who did contract work for the FBI.
On Monday, Parker described David Black as a husband who controlled his wife through intimidation and emotional abuse. The prosecutor said that when the couple’s divorce was about to be finalized — and Black knew he would finally lose control of his wife — he turned to murder.
Parker told jurors that David Black’s DNA was found on the screen door through which police think he entered his wife’s house, and on a switch to a light in Bonnie Black’s bedroom, among other areas of the house.
Campbell argued that police should have expected to find David Black’s DNA at the home. Black had lived in the house for years before moving to the couple’s second home, blocks away, in 2014. Even while the couple were separated, Campbell said, his client sometimes returned to the house to access the garage, where he kept supplies for his business renovating and flipping houses.
Campbell also questioned why David Black would turn on the light to his wife’s bedroom, knowing that he would risk waking their daughter, who slept nearby.
During the trial, prosecutors turned to the testimony of those close to Bonnie Black, as well as court records, to describe a tumultuous marriage marred by custody disputes.
Bonnie Black had filed for divorce in April 2014, months after she moved to the basement of the couple’s home in October 2013. She testified during divorce proceedings that her husband had “looked at me with his menacing look and he said, ‘If you ever leave, I will take the children and you will never see them again.’ ”
Bonnie Black also recalled a separate incident before she filed for divorce when, upon returning in the middle of the night from a business trip, she inadvertently woke her husband, angering him.
“He was just towering over me and screaming and yelling,” she said, recalling that she ran to the basement and locked the door.
During the divorce proceedings, David Black said his wife’s behavior had become “increasingly impossible.”
“Usually she is hot or cold and then somewhat randomly to me she’ll get very angry at me and explode,” he said. “It just has been making life miserable.”
Parker also said Monday that David Black had secretly placed a cellphone in his wife’s bathroom to take videos of her, which he then used to compile thousands of images.
Campbell acknowledged that his client made bad choices, including the videos, but reminded the jury “that’s not what this is about.”
He said that prosecutors’ claims of David Black resenting his wife was not enough to convict him of murder, calling it “dangerous” to assume a stranger could not have killed Bonnie Black.
During the trial the victim’s mother, Bettyann Armstrong, testified that her daughter had called on April 16. Bonnie Black told her mother she planned to come visit in Pennsylvania, where Armstrong lived, as she waited for the divorce to be finalized.
She was found dead the next day.