Nathaniel Fujita Murder Trial Resumes With Astley's Friend on the Stand

The trial of Nathaniel Fujita begins its third week today with a friend of Lauren Astley's returning to the stand.

The trial of the Wayland man accused of brutally slaying his 18-year-old classmate and ex-girlfriend opens its third week of testimony today with a friend of his alleged victim on the stand.

Nathaniel Fujita, now 20, was 18 years old when police say he lured Lauren Astley to his family's Wayland garage where he then strangled and stabbed her before dumping her body in a marsh across town.

On Friday, the jury listened as Fujita's uncle, Philip Saba, explained his interactions with his nephew both in the months and years before the July 3, 2011, murder as well as his memories of Fujita's behavior at Saba's home on July 4 leading up to his nephew's arrest in the early morning hours of July 5.

According to Caroline Saba, Fujita's cousin who took the stand after her father, Philip Saba, her conversations with Fujita in the hours leading up to his arrest, which occurred at the Saba family's Framingham home, hinted at her suspicions regarding his connection to Astley's murder.

In her testimony Friday, Saba said she asked Fujita how Astley's Jeep had gotten to Wayland Town Beach, where it was discovered the night of July 3.

"It was me," Saba said Fujita told her.

Astley was reported missing on July 3 and her body was discovered in a north Wayland marsh around 7 a.m. on July 4.

Saba also testified that she was packing a bag in her bedroom the night of July 4 when she asked Fujita, "How he could call me last night and ask me to hang out?"

When pressed by Prosecutor Lisa McGovern to explain what she meant by that question, Saba responded, "Having done what I was beginning to realize he had done, I was asking how he could possibly have called me to hang out," Saba said.

Caroline Saba stepped down from the witness stand at about 12:35 p.m., and the prosecution called Hannah Blahut as the next witness. Blahut was one of five girls, including Astley, who formed a tightly knit group of friends particularly during their junior and senior years at Wayland High School.

Blahut testified for only about 20 minutes, mostly about her knowledge of Fujita and Astley's relationship as well as Fujita's demeanor in the month leading up to the murder, before Judge Peter Lauriat adjorned court for the day and week.

Testimony is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. today in courtroom 530 at Middlesex Superior Court in Woburn.

Patch will be in the courtroom once again living blogging the testimony and events as they unfold.

For a complete recap of Friday's testimony, see the Live Blog from Feb. 22. For more details on the trial and case in general, see the topic page, Wayland Murder: Nathaniel Fujita Trial.

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