The Oregonian, Apr. 2, 2003
NEWPORT — Christian Longo testified Tuesday that he strangled his wife, MaryJane, on Dec. 17, 2001, then killed their unconscious daughter Madison only after learning MaryJane had drowned two of their children and tried to smother Madison.
Longo, on trial on charges of murdering his son, Zachery, 4, and other daughter, Sadie, 3, concluded his fourth day of testimony by saying he didn’t expect the jury to believe him. He further said he wouldn’t try talking them into believing him.
He said he wanted at this stage of the trial to “be on the stand for as long as possible to be able to air what needed to be aired, to be able to tell, unfortunately, what took place.”
Longo has already pleaded guilty to the murder of MaryJane, 34, and Madison, 2. The current case may go to the jury as early as today after closing arguments.
As two of MaryJane’s sobbing sisters and Longo’s weeping mother looked on, Longo described in an hourlong narrative how MaryJane had refused to communicate with him all day Dec. 17 after a pivotal four-hour early morning discussion.
During that conversation, he said, he revealed to her for the first time several lies and crimes.
Longo, his face occasionally contorted as he appeared to fight back tears, testified that he first noticed something strange the night of Dec. 17 when his wife, wearing only a bathrobe, picked him up from work at 11 p.m. She was curled up in the passenger’s seat and refused to acknowledge him, he said.
When they reached their second-floor room at The Landing in Newport, MaryJane was weeping and mumbling, then backed up against a railing, refusing to step inside, he said.
“That’s when I started to get alarmed,” Longo said.
Longo said that he hauled MaryJane into their room and that she became hysterical, then slumped to the floor. He ran through the condo and, upon reaching their bedroom, found a motionless Madison sprawled on their bed.
“I ended up grabbing her shoulders and shaking her, and she wasn’t moving at all,” Longo said.
Longo testified that he went back to MaryJane, picked her up and began shaking her violently against a hallway wall in an attempt to find out what had happened to Zachery and Sadie.
MaryJane began speaking, he said.
“She started to say, ‘You did this to us. You did this. It’s your fault,’ ” Longo testified. “It wasn’t until she said, ‘You killed us,’ and that’s when it became extremely difficult.
“That’s when she said something about, ‘They’re by the house. They’re in the water by the house,’ ” he said. “That’s when I lost it.”
Longo said that with one hand grasping the lapel of her robe and the other hand around her neck, he lifted her off the floor and began squeezing, then dropped her. Then he grabbed her around the neck with both hands, lifted her off the floor with both hands and again began squeezing.
“I didn’t stop until I couldn’t hold her up anymore,” Longo said.
Longo said he then went to Madison and saw her chest move. During the course of a few minutes he said he watched her draw breaths periodically and shook her again, but she remained unresponsive.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Longo said. “Even though she was breathing I thought of her as dead at that point.”
He said he put his hand on her throat to cut off her air supply and squeezed until “I knew she couldn’t breathe anymore.”
Under questioning from Steve Briggs, a co-prosecutor, Longo admitted that he took pride in his abilities of persuasion. He also conceded that he’s the only member of his family left to tell how he treated MaryJane.
“She’s not here because you killed her,” Briggs said.
“That’s true,” Longo said.
Briggs said Zachery would be 6 years old.
“Old enough to tell us what happened,” Briggs said.
“I would assume so,” Longo said.
Briggs also hammered away at Longo’s statements to Lincoln County detectives that he had left Newport to get away from the water, which he said reminded him of his family. Briggs said that was another of his numerous cons.
He walked Longo through his travels to San Francisco, then on to the Mexican cities of Cancun and Tulum — all located alongside water — and how he snorkeled near Tulum and walked on the beach in Mexico to clear his head.
“You were trying to con those detectives,” Briggs said.
“I disagree with that,” Longo said. “I was trying to be honest and forthright.”
“Up to a point.”