Verdict expected Friday for Bradenton man charged with strangling girlfriend

jdeleon@bradenton.comJune 27, 2014 

MANATEE -- A verdict is expected Friday in the trial of a Bradenton man charged with strangling his girlfriend.

Cornelius Baskin, 26, is charged with second-degree murder and accused of strangling his girlfriend, Regina Nunez, hours after accusing her of having sex with someone else.

Nunez was found by her mother dead on her bed at her home in Bayshore on the Lakes Apartments, 4203 24th St. W., the morning of June 7, 2012.

Her mother went to check on her at the urging of Baskin's father, who called to say his son was hospitalized and Nunez had not been heard from, according to the warrant.

If convicted, Baskin faces life in prison.

On Thursday, Manatee County Sheriff's Office Detective Jerome Diamond testified about text messages retrieved from Nunez's smashed cell phone, found near her body, and the tower locations Baskin's phone connected with in the hours surrounding her death.

The cell phone carrier reports between 1:15 p.m. and 3:13 p.m. Baskin's cell phone connected to the tower nearest the victim's home, according to Diamond.

Between 3:38 and 7:11 p.m., the phone connected to the tower closet to his father's home where Baskin claims to have been at the time of her death.

Text messages were exchanged between Nunez's phone and Baskin's phone up until about noon the day of her death.

"Baby I am sorry for spazzing on you," read the text message from Baskin's phone to Nunez's phone at 10:12 a.m. "I haven't smoke or eaten all morning. I just want to know what's going on. I JUST DON'T UNDERSTAND."

"You think I would have sex with someone else other than you?" was the immediate response.

Three minutes later, a message from his to hers: "No baby I know you wouldn't!"

About six hours after receiving the last text message, Nunez's phone received a message from another number: "Call me."

Defense attorney Mark Lipinski questioned if there was any way to know when the phone was smashed.

"No, I couldn't tell you the time," Diamond said. "It doesn't take much to break the screen. It takes a lot more to break the LCD."

Lipinski also questioned whether the time on the phone could be changed.

"You can change it, but that's what you see," Diamond. "You can't physically change the actual time that is hard coded to the device."

Diamond's testimony is expected to conclude Friday morning.

After the state rests its case, the defense will present its side. The trial is expected to wrap up late Friday.

In 2010, Baskin was released from a Florida prison after serving three years for a home-invasion conviction in Leon County, according to Florida Department of Corrections records.

Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.

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