Like so many flings in the summer of 2014, the night Gable Tostee and Warriena Wright spent together began with a flirtatious exchange on Tinder. Their brief relationship would end not with fond memories, but in a death and accusations of murder.
Wright was a 26-year-old New Zealander on vacation in Australia when she matched with Tostee, then 28, on the dating app in August 2014. They communicated briefly over their phones, until Tostee persuaded her to meet him in person.
His was an unsubtle approach. “You look delicious. I want to do dirty things to you,” he wrote early in their Tinder conversation, according to court evidence released Wednesday and published by News.com.au.
“That usually work?” she messaged back.
They continued to send messages via Tinder over the next three days. Tostee asked Wright if she could “be a freak in the sheets, Cletes?” referencing her Tinder username, a “Simpsons” character.
“Let’s get drunk together,” he said. “I’m a pornstar after a few drinks!”
“Haha thats great,” she said. The two exchanged phone numbers. Wright agreed to join Tostee at a beer garden in Gold Coast, a metropolitan area south of Brisbane where Tostee lived. They left after a quick jaunt through the garden, buying a six-pack of beer on their way to Tostee’s apartment. He lived alone on the 14th floor.
At first the pair seemed to hit it off. That evening, Marreza Wright received two Facebook messages from her sister. Warriena Wright described her date as “an Australian Sam Winchester,” comparing Tostee to the square-jawed protagonist from the show “Supernatural,” Marreza Wright told the Brisbane Supreme Court. The other message was a selfie of Wright and Tostee together.
They drank vodka and had sex. A pathologist would later determine that Wright had a blood-alcohol level of 0.156 percent, according to the Guardian.
As the night progressed, it began to spiral out of control.
At the beginning of a three-hour recording Tostee surreptitiously took on his phone, later played for a Brisbane Supreme Court jury in October, he and Wright chat and listen to music. But after an hour, she began to hit Tostee, loud enough to be picked up by the mobile phone’s microphone, as reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corp.
“That’s enough,” he told her. On the recording, the music stopped.
While an agitated Wright looked for her belongings, she threatened to break Tostee’s jaw and accused him of theft.
“I’m going to call the police and they are going to come here,” she said. “I’m going to call the police. You stole my f—–g phone.”
He denied taking anything. “I didn’t say you have to leave,” Tostee said. “I just said stop beating me up.” At that, she allegedly threw ornamental rocks and a telescope at Tostee. His DNA, in the form of dried blood, was found on one of the white rocks, a witness testified Wednesday.
Prosecutor Glen Cash said Tostee became enraged, locking her on his balcony. “You’re lucky I haven’t chucked you off my balcony, you G—— psycho b—-,” Tostee said in the recording. “You’re not going to collect any belongings, you’re just going to walk out.” It was disputed in court whether Tostee choked Wright before restraining her outside.
On the balcony, Wright screamed in protest. He admitted to her that she was being recorded. “No, no, no, no, no,” she said, “just let me go home.”
“I would,” Tostee said, “but you have been a bad girl.”
Trapped outside, Wright became so fearful of Tostee, prosecutors said, that she had no choice but to attempt an escape.
Gabriele Collyer-Wiedner, Tostee’s downstairs neighbor, awoke to loud noises about 2 a.m. Collyer-Wiedner said in court Monday that she at first thought the ruckus came from banging furniture. And then she saw Wright.
“Legs came down and dangled in the air,” she said, according to the Brisbane Times. “I screamed and somebody else screamed, I assumed it was her voice.”
Dianne Little, the pathologist who determined Wright’s blood-alcohol content, testified that the 26-year-old’s body appeared as though it had “almost folded over itself.” The 14-story fall wounded Wright 80 times, so damaging her body that Little could not estimate how tall Wright was when she was alive.
Seen leaving the apartment complex soon after on CCTV, Tostee wandered through the Gold Coast suburb of Surfers Paradise. He stopped at Domino’s and ate pizza.
Tostee did not immediately call the police, allegedly first trying to contact an attorney and then phoning his father.
He told his father he “might have a bit of a situation” and “I think she might have jumped,” noting there were a “million cops” around the apartment complex.
“Why does this s— keep happening to me?” Tostee said. “I swear to God I didn’t push her, I just chucked her out on the balcony because she was beating me up.” His father, the Sydney Morning Herald reported, picked Tostee up half an hour later.
In court, defense lawyer Saul Holt argued that Tostee locked Wright on the balcony to defend himself.
“What happened in this case is nothing like murder or manslaughter. It doesn’t fit,” Holt said, according to the Associated Press.
Tostee was charged with murder and faces a sentence of up to life in prison. He has maintained his innocence, pleading not guilty. “I may not be a saint, but I have never harmed anybody,” he wrote in a 2015 Facebook post, according to BuzzFeed News Australia. He will reappear in the Supreme Court of Queensland on Friday.