Jury listens to hours-long police interview with suspect during murder trial of former Altria executive

Leyla Namiranian

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Today is day three in the murder trial of former Altria executive Leyla Namiranian.

Namiranian’s ex-boyfriend, Michael Edwards, has been charged in her death, even though her body has never been found.

Four years ago in 2012, Namiranian was last seen leaving her job at Altria. Edwards told police he was dating her at the time of her disappearance and authorities have said that cell phone records show him near Namiranian’s home the night before she vanished.

On Wednesday, the jury listened to a three and a half hour long interview police did with Edwards. During the interview, Edwards said he went straight home the night Namiranian was last seen and straight to work the day she was reported missing.

In court on Tuesday, chilling testimonies were heard from Peter Paoli, another Altria executive who is the last known person to see Namiranian alive, as well as Altria employee Kimberly Pugh, a close friend of Namiranian.

Paoli was the last person to see Namiranian on Wednesday, April 4, 2012. He said he was invited to dinner at Namiranian’s house that night, where they had dinner and talked. Paoli mentioned that Namiranian looked nervous and kept glancing at her phone and the door and window outside. He said he asked her if she was ok, and she simply nodded and kept eating.

Paoli admits that they were intimate that night and that he left her home around 11 p.m. He said he called 15 minutes later to say ‘thank you’ for dinner, but no one answered, so he left a voicemail. He said he left for a funeral in Georgia the next morning and found out Namiranian was missing on Friday after returning to work.

Paoli said police wanted to talk to him at some point, but that it could wait. He said he then called a friend who advised him to hire an attorney before talking with authorities. According to Paoli, he hired attorney Steven Benjamin, who advised him not to talk to police until an immunity agreement had been reached. Paoli said it took about two years for his attorney to get him immunity, at which point he sat down with prosecutors and police.

Altria coworker Kimberly Pugh also testified on Tuesday. She said when she was eventually introduced to Edwards, he presented himself as a nice person. However, Pugh said that things changed and Edwards became aggressive and possessive of Namiranian. She said Edwards called Namiranian and asked her where she was and who she was with regularly. Pugh said Namiranian told her Edwards had threatened her and said “one day I’m going to get you. Some way some how I’m going to get you when you least expect it.”

Pugh also said Namiranian came over and said Edwards had choked her. Pugh said she saw fingers marked on Namiranian’s neck and arms. Pugh said she told Namiranian to call police, but she refused. Pugh said she told Namiranian to never open the door if he ever came back and to call police if he did.

The trial is expected to wrap up by the end of the week.

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