Suitcase murder case: Trial begins for man accused of killing Shauna Haynes in downtown San Diego

Posted at 7:51 AM, Apr 09, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-09 16:16:32-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV and CNS) - Opening statements began Monday in the murder trial of a man who allegedly strangled a female acquaintance after watching her have sex with two other people, then stuffing her body into a suitcase and putting it out with the trash at a downtown hotel.

Joshua Matthew Palmer, 34, faces life in prison without parole if convicted of murder during a rape and murder during sodomy in the death of 21-year-old Shauna Haynes.

The prosecutor said Monday that Haynes was beaten and choked to death before she was then raped. Palmer took videos of some of these violating acts and then the prosecutor said afterward Palmer stuffed her body in a suitcase and put it out with the trash.

Witness Chelsea Shea testified during a preliminary hearing that she had drinks with Palmer at a bar on April 4, 2016, and agreed to go back to his room at the Chadwick Hotel on A Street. She and Palmer were having sex when Haynes arrived with a man named Anthony Kern, Shea testified.

The witness testified that she, Kern and Haynes eventually had sex together, but Palmer "just stood there," then "told us to leave."


Shea testified that she left with Kern and asked Haynes if she wanted to come along, but Haynes said she wanted to stay with Palmer.

A few hours after the early morning sexual encounter, Palmer called 911, saying his girlfriend was missing, a detective testified.

When contacted, Palmer had red knuckles on both his hands, according to the detective.

Police obtained a search warrant and seized video files from Palmer's phone, showing an unconscious Haynes.

In another clip, Palmer is heard saying, "I'm sorry I love you, but I can't watch you having sex with somebody else. God I'm sorry."

Prosecutor Martin Doyle alleged that Palmer -- who worked with Haynes at the Spaghetti Factory restaurant -- stuffed her body into a suitcase and threw it out with the garbage.

The morning of April 6, 2016, a guest at the hotel found the suitcase containing the victim's body near a row of trash cans in a parking area in the back of the three-story building.

On the stand already -- the man who found the suitcase.  Phillip Moore's 911 call detailing the gruesome discovery was played in court.

The defense attorney said at issue for the jury is not how Shauna Haynes died or even who killed her — but why. She told the jury they might be angry and disgusted with Palmer but must not ignore what she called factual discrepancies that don’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Palmer is guilty of premeditated first-degree murder, rape or other charges. She said Palmer was humiliated and heartbroken after seeing the woman he loved having sex with someone else.