Cruz trial date set for early April

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BY BRUNO MATARAZZO JR.
WATERBURY – A trial date is set for early April in the 2017 murder of a Naugatuck woman that went unsolved for two years.

Josue Cruz, 40, has been held on $1.5 million bond since his arrest by Waterbury police more than four years ago for the murder of Lisa Chinova.

Chinova’s body was discovered in a third-floor apartment at 17 Greenmount Terrace in June 2017. The investigation had initially hit a roadblock as the medical examiner struggled to determine the exact manner and cause of her death. However, a witness came forward to inform investigators that Cruz had admitted to choking Chinova following an argument in his apartment.

According to the warrant, Cruz attempted to conceal evidence by cleaning the scene after the fatal incident.

Cruz, who resided in the apartment with his young son, had initially provided conflicting statements to the police, claiming he had met Chinova on the street, engaged in consensual activities, and discovered her dead the next morning.

Instead of contacting law enforcement, Cruz sought advice from friends and family on how to handle the situation.

Cruz’s attorney Martin J. Minnella said he plans to call to the stand a doctor who was the medical examiner in New Hampshire for 30 years who plans to testify that Chinova’s death was not a homicide and that she died of a drug overdose.

“It wasn’t a strangulation,” Minnella said.

Minnella also noted that the witness who came forward to police was the ex-girlfriend of his client.

After first being unable to determine a cause of death, the statement from Cruz’s ex-girlfriend prompted the cause of death to be asphyxiation.

Cruz confessed to being intoxicated and using cocaine on the night of Chinova’s death, according to the warrant.

Subsequent to the witness’s revelation, Cruz faces charges for separate crimes involving assaults on an unidentified woman. These allegations include threatening the woman with a box cutter and throwing her from a moving vehicle.