During their first murder trial since thestart of the COVID-19 pandemic, Montgomery County prosecutors said Monday that they would prove a Perkiomen Township man beat his girlfriend to death in a jealous rage and then hid her body in his home for more than 10 hours before taking it to a nearby hospital in an Uber.
His defense attorney acknowledged the attack but said his client didn’t intend to kill the victim.
Nicholas Forman, 24, has been charged with first- and third-degree murder in the death of Sabrina Harooni in February 2020.
Investigators say Forman killed Harooni, 22, of Gilbertsville, at the height of an argument over her ex-boyfriend. In a video recording of Harooni’s battered body found on Forman’s cellphone, a male voice that investigators believe to be Forman’s is heard saying, “This is what cheating liars get.”
Assistant District Attorney Erika Wevodau said in her opening statement that the video shows “exactly what his intent was and how proud he was.”
“This case is not a ‘whodunit,’ just like so many domestic violence cases aren’t,” Wevodau said. “This defendant was the last person to be seen with her alive.”
Forman’s attorney, Michael John, agreed with Wevodau that there was no doubt his client killed Harooni. But John still implored jurors not to convict him of first-degree murder, saying Forman’s actions were not premeditated.
”The simple fact is that he didn’t want her to die,” John said. “He did not plan her death, but he was selfish and callous toward her life.”
Harooni’s fatal beating followed a night out at a bar in Oaks watching Super Bowl LIV, prosecutors said. The next morning, Forman loaded Harooni’s body into an Uber and took her to Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, where she arrived cold to the touch, without a pulse, and bearing visible head and neck injuries, hospital staff testified Monday.
An autopsy later determined Harooni died from “asphyxia, strangulation and multiple blunt force injuries,” investigators wrote in court filings.
In an interview with police, Forman said Harooni was attacked by a group of women who followed them home from the bar, a story he repeated to the nurses who treated her. Harooni was badly injured in the fight, Forman said, but seemed fine until the next morning, when he took her to the hospital, witnesses testified Monday.
Wevodau, the prosecutor, called this an outright lie debunked by surveillance footage from the bar.
“His story doesn’t make sense, because it didn’t happen that way,” she said. “Those girls don’t exist, and they weren’t the ones who brutally beat Sabrina Harooni.”
An Uber driver who drove the couple home from the bar the night before told investigators the couple got into a heated dispute after Harooni mentioned getting a text message from an ex-boyfriend, according to the affidavit of probable cause for Forman’s arrest.
Forman became upset and demanded to see her phone, and Harooni said he was scaring her, the driver told investigators.
The driver, who is expected to testify later in the trial, was so worried he circled the block after dropping the couple off and waited outside Forman’s house, Wevodau said. He heard the two arguing, and when the fight seemingly ended, drove off.
Forman’s prosecution is expected to last through the week.