It was the "ultimate bonding experience" for two men accused of slitting a Scottsdale man’s throat, leaving him nearly decapitated, a prosecutor said Tuesday.
Deputy Maricopa County attorney Juan Martinez said in opening statements of Shawn Lynch’s death penalty trial that Lynch and Michael Sehwani were inseparable and their relationship "reached a crescendo" March 25, 2001, when they kidnapped, robbed and killed James Panzarella as he sat helpless tied to a chair.
A medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Panzarella is expected to testify that it took him about a minute to die.
"It was a gruesome, horrific sort of killing," Martinez said.
DNA evidence from Lynch’s shoes and the blood spatter pattern on them will show that Lynch stood next to Panzarella, 27, as he bled to death, the prosecutor said.
Lynch, 43, and Sehwani, 33, killed the man for greed, Martinez said. Sehwani is scheduled to stand trial after Lynch.
Defense attorney Joel Brown said there is no dispute that Lynch was at Panzarella’s home, a guesthouse behind his parent’s house in the 11200 block of North 74th Street.
"What the evidence will show is that Shawn Lynch did not participate in the killing of James Panzarella," Brown said.
Martinez said Panzarella met the men at a Scottsdale bar and ended up at his house at 5 a.m., calling an escort service. He suggested that Lynch and Sehwani forced Panzarella to pay $300 for the woman to dance nude.
The woman left about 6:30 a.m., the prosecutor said. And by 7:15 a.m., Lynch and Sehwani were beginning a spending spree on Panzarella’s credit card.
The trial is expected to last until after Christmas.