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Giselle Esteban, accused of killing Michelle Le, appears in an Alameda County courtroom with her attorney Andrea Auer Dec. 2, 2011 in Hayward, Calif. (Karl Mondon/Staff File)

OAKLAND -- Giselle Esteban and Scott Marasigan always had a "rocky relationship," but the two stayed together long enough to have a child and attempt to create a stable family for the baby girl, evidence in a murder trial revealed.

But that stability began to unravel when Esteban learned that Marasigan shared a secret with Esteban's high school friend Michelle Le who confided in Marasigan about an unwanted pregnancy and decision Le made to have an abortion, Marasigan said in court Monday.

Esteban, who Marasigan said was always jealous of the "friendship" he had with Le, began to wrongly believe that Marasigan and Le were having an affair. While Marasigan and Le did once date, Marasigan said in court that he never had sex with Le, not when they were dating and not after they decided to become friends.

But Esteban, who began dating Marasigan after he dated Le, didn't believe Marasigan and began building a hatred toward Le and Marasigan that was documented in an endless amount of text messages and a couple of recorded conversations in which Esteban threatened the life of Le and Marasigan.

Those threats became reality, a prosecutor said, on May 27, 2011, when Esteban is accused of killing Le in the parking garage of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Hayward.

Le, 26, was initially considered a missing person but four months after she went missing, her bones were found in a wooded area hidden under a tree branch and some debris near the Pleasanton-Sunol border.


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Esteban was arrested and charged with the murder before the bones were found and the evidence collected against her, deputy district attorney Butch Ford said, proves beyond a reasonable doubt that Esteban killed Le, a one time best friend from San Diego where they attended high school together. Esteban was pregnant when she was arrested and had her second child while awaiting trial. The father of the child is not know.

Ford said the case he will present to a jury of four men and eight women will show that Esteban planned the murder, carried it out and then tried to hide it. The killing was done in a calculated manner and came after at least four months of threats that Ford said proves Esteban should be convicted of first-degree murder.

"The defendant had jealousy, hatred and rage, and the focus of that jealousy, hatred and rage was Michelle Le," Ford said. "Michelle Le was 26 years old, she was full of life. The evidence will show that the defendant took that life."

But Andrea Auer, Esteban's defense attorney, told the jury Monday that she will prove that her client simply acted in the "heat of passion" and should not be found guilty of first- or second-degree murder but of manslaughter instead.

Auer said her client felt as if her life was falling apart as she lost custody of her child and continued to believe that Le and Marasigan were having an affair.

"This mountain of evidence will show you that Giselle was acting out of extraordinary provocation and heat of passion," Auer said. "Giselle is becoming more and more unraveled."

The case promises much drama and soap opera-like testimony as the key to both sides will revolve around what Esteban was thinking the moment she killed Le.

Le, a nursing student, was walking back to her car at the medical center's parking garage to get some cold medicine when Esteban is accused of attacking her.

Esteban went to great lengths to find where Le lived and worked, Ford said, telling the jury he will provide evidence showing that Esteban broke into the administrative offices of Samuel Merritt University, which Le attended, and stole a student roster showing where students were practicing the nursing craft.

Evidence in the case will also center on the rocky relationship Esteban had with Marasigan and the love triangle Esteban believed she was caught in the middle of.