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Attorneys Will Present Opening Arguments Today in Local Murder Trial

Defense attorney William Sullivan and Prosecutor Lisa McGovern will make their opening statements in the case of a Wayland man accused of killing Lauren Astley in 2011.

Opening statements will take place today at Middlesex Superior Court in the trial of a 20-year-old Wayland man accused of killing 18-year-old Lauren Astley, also of Wayland, in July 2011.

Nathaniel Fujita was 18 years old when Astley’s body, strangled and with multiple stab wounds, was found in a Wayland marsh. He has been charged with first-degree murder, two counts of assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, and assault and battery.

According to Massachusetts law, Fujita faces life in prison without parole if convicted of first-degree murder.

Fujita’s lawyer William Sullivan, however, said this is a case where the issue of “criminal responsibility” could be a primary question, though he would not officially say whether he planned to pursue that particular defense strategy.

During jury selection, Judge Peter Lauriat did ask potential jurors whether they could be impartial should Fujita's team present a defense of not guilty due to lack of criminal responsibility, more commonly known as the insanity defense.

If a jury returns a verdict of not guilty by reason of lack of criminal responsibility, Fujita would then receive an order committing him to a facility for an indefinite period of time, Sullivan explained.

In the facility, Fujita would receive periodic evaluations as to his safety, and there would be the possibility of his eventual release.

Sullivan said he expected the nature of the defense’s strategy to become clearer throughout the course of the trial.

Both sides will have 30 minutes to make their opening statements on Wednesday after Prosecutor Lisa McGovern requested more than the typical 15 minutes due to the nature of the case.

Court is scheduled to convene at 9 a.m.

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