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Witness: Fla. millionaire's wife handed me pillow to muffle husband's screams in NY hotel
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) ' The wife of a Florida millionaire let two attackers into her hotel room, pointed them to her sleeping husband and gave them a pillow to muffle his screams as they attacked him with dumbbells, one of the attackers testified Friday.
And when the beating was over, she wanted to make sure that they had also sliced his eyes with a knife, the witness said.
Alejandro Garcia, who has already been convicted and is cooperating with federal prosecutors, testified for a third day at the murder trial of the wife, Narcy Novack, 55, of Fort Lauderdale, and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 58, of Philadelphia.
They're accused of hiring Garcia and others as part of a plot that included the killings of Ben Novack Jr. and his mother, Bernice Novack.
Ben Novack's father built the Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. Prosecutors say his wife feared she would be divorced and would lose out on his multimillion-dollar estate because of a prenuptial agreement.
In the days immediately after her husband's death, Narcy Novack denied any role in the killing, saying, "Only a monster can do this kind of evil thing."
Garcia testified earlier that Veliz recruited him to attack Bernice Novack at her Fort Lauderdale home in April 2009, and then Ben Novack three months later.
He said Friday that Veliz gave him the Novacks' room number at the suburban New York hotel where Ben Novack's travel company was overseeing an Amway convention.
As he and an accomplice, Joel Gonzalez, approached the room, equipped with gloves, duct tape, two dumbbells and a utility knife, Narcy Novack "stuck out her head and signaled us to hurry up," Garcia said through a Spanish interpreter.
"She made a signal showing where the man was. He was sleeping," Garcia said. "I went toward one side of the bed and Joel went to the other side without making noise and we started to beat up the man."
He said they pummeled him with the 3- and 5-pound dumbbells in "the chest, the ribs, the abdomen. ... I hit him in the face, the head."
"He was screaming," Garcia said. "He would not quiet down."
He said Narcy Novack then came into the room and gave him a pillow, putting a finger to her lips to indicate it was to "quiet the man."
"I put it on the man's face," he said.
At one point, as Novack writhed under the blows, his arm hit Garcia in the face and broke Garcia's sunglasses, Garcia said. One piece was left behind, and when police showed it to Narcy Novack, she claimed it was hers, which prosecutors believe shows her guilt.
After the beating, Garcia said, "I took out the utility knife and cut the man's eyes," following instructions from Veliz. Garcia said earlier that the plan was to injure Novack so severely he would have to retire and Narcy Novack and Veliz would take over his company.
Garcia said Narcy Novack "asked me if I had cut his eyes. I said yes. She told me, 'Are you sure?' I said yes."
Then Novack asked, "Are you sure he won't be able to see?" and Garcia offered to keep cutting, but she said, "No, that's fine," Garcia testified.
At the defense table, Novack shook her head.
Even after the beating and slashing, Ben Novack "kept on making noises," Garcia said. "He was groaning, complaining." So Garcia gagged him by wrapping duct tape around his mouth and head. Prosecutors said in opening statements that choking contributed to Novack's death.
Garcia and Gonzalez collected $7,000 from Veliz and fled to Miami, Garcia said, and they didn't know that Novack ' or his mother ' had died until Gonzalez bought some computer time at a flea market booth and went on the Internet.
Garcia said he then tried to hit up Veliz for more money and Veliz offered him another job, this time to plant drugs and weapons in someone's truck so that person would be arrested. Prosecutors have said such a plot was hatched against May Abad, Narcy Novack's daughter.
Later, Garcia said, Veliz's brother Carlos Veliz asked him to attack and cripple a woman who was interfering with Narcy Novack's inheriting the Novack estate. That, too, was apparently aimed at Abad, who had filed a lawsuit in Florida to block her mother's access to the millions.
Garcia was arrested in November 2009, before fulfilling either mission.